Vandervis: Hospital car parking issues loom ahead

The ‘separated’ cycleway (pictured left) should be removed from the one-way system to improve...
The ‘separated’ cycleway (pictured left) should be removed from the one-way system to improve traffic flows. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
The Dunedin City Council needs to dump its 10-year transport plan and focus on what the city actually needs, writes Dunedin city councillor Lee Vandervis.

Cr Lee Vandervis. Photo: ODT files
Cr Lee Vandervis. Photo: ODT files
The “Officials Passing Buck on Parking” (ODT 14/06/21) summarises local and central government car-cancelling hypocrisy in the face of parking reality and an incompetent site decision for our new hospital.

My ‘‘Hillside Hospital’’ opinion piece in 2017 anticipated the parking, congestion, and other problems of the proposed not-big-enough CBD hospital site, which has been most expensively bought without doing due diligence, and without checking that ground conditions were suitable for the originally proposed large hospital.

Last year I confronted Hospital Steering Group chairman Pete Hodgson face-to-face at the Farmers’ Market and asked again ‘‘What parking provision was planned for the new hospital site’’?

He replied that they ‘‘hoped to build 350 underground car parks’’, but subsequent confirmation of swampy ground conditions has made even this small number of parks unworkable. Hundreds of car parks have already been lost demolishing the space that is insufficient for a modern hospital design, on poor ground that requires exceptionally expensive deep foundations.

When senior nurse Karen Anderson asked SDHB CEO Chris Fleming a similar parking question at a concerned nurses’ meeting, Fleming replied that ‘‘by the time the hospital is built cars will be self-drive so extra parking won’t be needed’’. To me this suggests severe delusions, decades till planned completion, or both.

After five years of dodging parking questions, officials from the DCC and DHB to Transport Minister Michael Woods and Health Minister Andrew Little are still passing the buck, despite the recent lessons at Christchurch Hospital, where an extra 1000-space car park is urgently being built entirely over-budget because of similar car park planning incompetence.

DCC councillor Jim O’Malley this week said ‘‘it doesn’t make sense to build a hospital of this size and make no proper provision for ... parking’’ yet the previous week O’Malley promoted and voted for the DCC 10-year Plan Transportation $53 million spend that excluded even one new car park space.

The new hospital site is now given as a reason to divert, slow and two-way the one-way street system, with the claim that a major hospital cannot open out on to a one-way street for safety reasons.

Current plans to re-route north/south one-way traffic away from the new hospital across the rail-lines to loop around a Harbourside detour will ensure more delays and compounding congestion, especially at rail-crossing pinch-points and connections back on to arterial routes.

My suggestion for making the best of this new hospital mess comes at a cost that could have been avoided with almost any other site: Hillside, Oval, or Wakari.

Moving positively forward, we should move the failed ‘‘separated’’ cycleway off the one-way system and have a rideable cycleway run through the Gardens, the campus, and a 20kmh shared-space Leith Street instead, as sensibly proposed by others over the last decade.

We should then restore and upgrade the one-way system to a proper synchronised arterial route with a 60kmh speed limit along continuous three lanes each way, like the section that already flows easily from the Chinese Garden to the Oval.

Then we build a massive multi-story car park above the current Countdown car park with Hospital entrances at the second-story level, bridging over the one-way three lanes flowing north.

This would allow for safe pedestrian access to the hospital for all staff, patients, and visitors from closely adjacent easy parking, much like any major overseas airport.

Cyclists would have a safer calm two-way cycleway away from heavy traffic vehicles and the faster north/south traffic flows.

Our population, which is expected to increase by 10,000 people over the next seven years, will not only have safe and easy hospital access with significantly increased central city parking, but a much quicker uncongested route connecting North and South Dunedin which will also function as an effective by-pass.

Apart from the car park cost, changed hospital access and Leith St cycleway, this proposal would not require major building costs, demolition, or earthworks, and would optimise the more natural traffic corridors we already have.

History shows that new technology is what drives real social change, not activism or ideology. Current DCC leadership two-wheels-good, four-wheels-bad ideology is draining Dunedin’s development and choking our central city.

The new technology of much more efficient and eventually self-drive cars will see the end of Victorian modes of passenger transport, the tram, the train, and finally the blundering bus. They will all disappear because they can never cure the first-mile-last-mile problem, and because new efficient car and electric vehicle technology is already increasing our mobility at much less cost.

We should dump the latest $53 million of useless DCC transportation pet projects and instead invest in a better one-way, better hospital access, and better car parking that we actually need.


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Again sensible remarks falling on DCC and Government deaf ears by not only one but multiple people.
The picture provide in the article shows that a 3 lane section is possible, is that what the dcc had in mind in the 60's?

It beggars belief that the hospital planning process does not consider the need for parking. And it takes a special kind of bloodymindedness amongst the agencies involved--including the DCC--not to front foot this issue at the planning stage. And I'm a cyclist. Yes two wheels good. But four wheels are necessary, particularly for those needing the hospital!

Why does nobody ever listen to this man? Surely this is all just basic common sense?

Thank God some people do listen to this man. Dunedin would be a much better place to live if lee was in charge!

Davey, read all the comments, the man you seem to think knows nothing, has support, which questions the intelligence of those you support, or have I missed something? please respond

I see now that my comment was ambiguous, and for this I apologise. I have always been a supporter of Lee, and if I still lived in Dunedin, he would certainly have my vote to be mayor. To me, his pursuit of honesty and transparency in Dunedin City Council affairs, and his practical and economical proposals, deserve far more recognition and support than he has ever been given. To his credit, he has never given up. My comment was that his concerns about the traffic disruption and parking chaos which will result from the siting of the new hospital are just common sense, and should have been listened to by the planners long ago. The photo of the busy traffic lanes (and empty cycle lane) on the one-way street should also be telling the planners something.

Because Cr Vandervis isn't a yes man unlike some on the council and those that are (including some organizations) take a snitch against him...

This is probably the most sensible article I have seen on the issue. It beggars belief that the DCC, MoH and NZTA can be so backward and intransigent in their thinking. What is Hodgson doing about it? We know Hawkins won't add anything sensible to the debate, but who is responsible at the Govt agencies? Do we have a Minister of Health or is it another of Hipkins' roles? Come on, don't mess it up at such an early stage.

Let's not forget DCC transport manager overseeing this project, Mr Nick Sargent, who has a clear dislike for cars in the city center. He is applying his personal dislike onto the people.

Anyone who does not know that these three agencies are kingdoms of dumb and duck has never truly had to deal with them. A few more votes would have seen Lee our new Mayor. A voice of reason amongst the zombies. It's no wonder he gets upset. I hope he wins his court case. Still no policy around commercial electric scooters 4 years later? Speaks volumes as to who we have at the reins. I dare not say at the wheel.

"...more efficient and eventually self-drive cars will see the end of Victorian modes of passenger transport, the tram, the train, and finally the blundering bus"... yes, I can understand why "nobody ever listen[s] to this man", since he consistently chooses to ignore evidence from cities around the world. It must be so nice to live with the 1950's sci-fi image that utopian cites can exist with everyone shuttling around in their private 4-wheeled transport.

Which cities of 130,000 spread over 3300 square kilometres are you referring too?

A bit of political realism. Central government issues national policy statements including one on transport. That one presently promotes ‘mode shift’ which means both carrot and stick measures to discourage private vehicle use. It won’t make any difference who is elected to the DCC next triennium regarding this issue because local government must comply with national policy statements. The NZ Transport Agency simply won’t fund anything which doesn’t meet with these objectives. See here:
The new hospital management will most likely have to buy parking space for essential staff according to the open commercial market. Maybe the DCC could build a parking building to increase that capacity (although they claim there is presently sufficient) but I doubt that ratepayers would want to pay for it. It’s certain that no other agency will.

And this article clearly exposes why Cull, Hawkins, the rest of the greens and the DCC green planning department all hate(d) Mr Vandervis.

He is NOT pro car, he simply acknowledges the reality that most people in Dunedin need a car for personal transport. Visitors and staff at the hospttal will need nearby parking for safe and dry access to work and to visit patients.

DCC will eventually throw out the current transport plan, because Dunedin will eventually have a new council and new planning department. Many millions will be wasted, but wasting money has never been a concern of greens zealots.

Ah ... yes ... well shouldn't we be more concerned that we have no hospital yet and from what I've heard, it's probably more important to argue over the number of beds, than parking spaces !!

Cart before horse peoples !!

Even in this article which contains some sensible ideas the man still takes a poke at others. Why would anyone listen to this reprehensible spokesperson. Always about him.
There will be a car park but it won’t be because of anything Lee says.

If the poke fits, the poke fits!
Anyway, all he is doing is stating other people’s positions are on what has been done and their proposals as to what comes next.
If you consider that a poke, then you must be agreeing with him but choose to attack the man instead of the issue.

Cr Vandervis says, ‘Current DCC leadership two-wheels-good, four-wheels-bad ideology is draining Dunedin’s development and choking our central city,´ implying that better local leadership could fix it. But the present Government has been passing laws to address climate change flat out and transport is central to that. Of course, Mayor Hawkins supports all this because he’s Green Party - but it would make no difference if he wasn’t. Local government MUST do as central government legislates. Parking is just the tip of the iceberg. The real issue is climate change adaptation. The present Government is not going to back down on that. I am sure the Government expects transitional pain and protest with their ‘stick’ measures to reduce car dependency and Dunedin will be expected to grin and bear a great deal, as people are forced to adapt, despite the more challenging climate and topography. But the city’s best chance for a slower transition (which I do think would be reasonable, especially regarding the hospital) is polite and respectful negotiation with central government agencies.

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