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The combination of major developments including the new hospital build, central city and tertiary precinct upgrades, waterfront development and a district energy scheme, means our city is about to undergo a once-in-a-lifetime transformation.
That transformation also presents the opportunity - indeed the need - to take a closer look at the city's transport needs and overhaul the transport network for all users.
The existing transport design has several barriers to connectivity and flow between the waterfront and the central city, and within the tertiary and warehouse precincts. The design, use and management of central city routes means many of the roads operate in a similar way - this results in more traffic on local roads, conflict between users of different traffic modes and safety issues.
Dunedin's population, job, visitor and vehicle numbers have all grown steadily in recent years.
This has brought many benefits but has also added further pressure on the central city transport network.
Growth is expected to continue in the foreseeable future.
Reconsidering the traffic layout in the context of the transformational projects and the city's growth makes it imperative that we take the opportunity to address the challenges and create additional benefits in doing so. Potential benefits include:
- Making the new hospital part of the city by providing good and safe access for patients, visitors and staff, rather than it being an ''island'' separated by busy roads.
- Improving safety for all road users.
- Improving the sense of place and the quality of experience in the central city.
- Improving traffic flows, including the safe and efficient movement of freight.
- Providing more pedestrian and cycle-friendly streets.
- Reducing pollution.
The city's transportation system might have worked in the past, but it cannot and will not continue to work the same way in to the future.
Therefore, the NZ Transport Agency and the DCC have committed to consider potential changes to the transport network in central Dunedin and review the operation of the one-way system on State Highway 1 with the intention of improving accessibility as well as the ''look and feel''. We want the community and all stakeholders to be part of these conversations before any decisions are made. Look out for more information in 2019.
One thing is certain however; any changes in traffic layout will be future-focused and not designed to meet yesterday's demands.
-Dave Cull is mayor of Dunedin