Port funds speed sign

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An electronic “your speed” sign, reminding motorists and truckies arriving in Port Chalmers to reduce their speed, has become a permanent fixture thanks to Port Otago.

Vehicle speed in George St, Port Chalmers, has been an issue in recent years, amid concerns for the safety of the growing number of cruise ship passengers.

Port Otago chief executive Kevin Winders said the Dunedin City Council had placed an electronic speed sign at the corner of Borlases Rd and George St last year and it had “made a hell of a difference”.

As the DCC signs were rotated around the city, Port Otago had agreed to fund the permanent placement of an electronic radar sign, which measures the speed of approaching motorists and warns them to slow down to 50kmh, at the site.

The cost of the sign is $12,500.

“It’s nice to have it there, and it reminds everyone when they are coming down the straight before you get to the main street, just to slow down,” Mr Winders said.

Port Otago has a voluntary speed limit of 30kmh for its trucks in George St and the trucking companies had been “brilliant”.

“We are really pleased with the way they have embraced that,” he said.

DCC transportation safety team leader Hjarne Poulsen was pleased at Port Otago’s support.

“Having this permanent sign at Port Chalmers helps to free up signs for other places in town,” he said.

West Harbour Community Board chairman Steve Walker was delighted that Port Otago had decided to buy the sign on behalf of the community.

“The temporary one proved to be very effective and the whole of the board supported it becoming a permanent feature,” Mr Walker said.

It was important to remind people to reduce their speed coming into Port Chalmers, particularly with cruise ship season starting.

“On cruise ship days the town can become a very busy place, with many passengers who are elderly and very unfamiliar with the local traffic situation that can see a mix of cars, logging[and] container trucks, cruise ship buses, pedestrians and bikes.

Port Otago had been “very proactive” in encouraging trucks to abide by the rules and for the most part the feedback from the community had been positive, Mr Walker said.

“They seem keen to support the community board in its continued effort to see further speed mitigation measures put in place.”

Mr Winders said Port Otago was thoroughly prepared for the beginning of the cruise ship season this week, which was starting slowly and would be at full speed from late November until mid-March.

“From then it becomes 90 days of looking after the passengers and juggling our other customers around them.”

Port Otago has 117 cruise ships booked in for the 2018-19 season, a significant increase on the 87 ships that visited last season.

Mr Winders said looking after the cruise ships, with their 250,000 passengers, alongside the port’s other functions would be “a juggling act”, but Port Otago was up to the challenge.

The multipurpose wharf extension would be completed at Labour Weekend, four months ahead of schedule.

“That will give us more space to park large cruise ships, manoeuvre container ships, and free up wharf space for logging customers.”

This cruise ship season was expected to bring $75million into the Dunedin economy, up from $54 million last season.

“That is a significant boost to the economy and it’s fantastic that we can enable that,” Mr Winders said.