Speed-limit review under way

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The NZ Transport Agency has moved to undertake its promised review of the 50kmh speed limit on George St, Port Chalmers, and will complete it before Christmas.

NZTA journey manager for the lower South Island Peter Brown told the West Harbour Community Board the agency had initiated the review at last week’s final board meeting for the year.

It planned to report back to Dunedin City Council about the outcome before Christmas, and would make decisions in the new year, Mr Brown said.

The review is in response to a long-standing public campaign to lower the speed limit to 30kmh and a council motion calling for the speed limit to be lowered before October 2019.

The criteria being used to review the speed limit had been changed to look at George St, Port Chalmers, as a CBD rather than as a strategic highway as it had been before, Mr Brown said.

Councillor and West Harbour Community Board member Aaron Hawkins said NZTA’s efficient response to the council’s request for the review was a positive sign.

“The most heartening thing has been hearing that they will review George St, Port Chalmers, as a CBD environment,” he said.

While it was pleasing the review was going ahead, it was disappointing the community had had to fight for it for so long, he said.

Pedestrian safety, particularly for cruise ship visitors, was of particular concern on what was a busy stretch of road.

Community board chairman Steve Walker welcomed the speed limit review, saying it was good news for Port Chalmers.

“It is also a little bit disappointing that something that has been so desired by the community has taken so long,” he said.

George St – stretching from the Borlases Rd-Wickliffe Tce intersection to Port Otago – was used by a large volume of traffic, including trucks, local people and visitors.

“Juxtaposing this with 5000-plus people wandering around the town on some days, and safety is a major concern, ” Mr Walker said.

Port Otago had been proactive in maintaining a voluntary 30kmh speed limit for trucks in the area and by paying for a speed monitoring sign, which had been helpful, he said.

At last week’s meeting, Mr Brown also informed the board that NZTA safety works planned for SH88, including building side-barriers and installing rumble strips, would be rolled in with the contract to complete the shared cycleway-walkway to Port Chalmers.

The safety works had been due to start about September, but a suitable tender had not been received, he said.

Putting the two together would create a project with a budget of $20million to $25million, and should result in a more competitive tendering process and better outcome, Mr Brown said.

It was expected that tenders would be out in the first quarter of 2019, and construction was due to start in June.