Cross­ings ac­tion plea

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

AUCK­LAND Trans­port is un­der pres­sure to speed up multi-mil­lion dol­lar safety up­grades to rail level cross­ings.

It is assess­ing 22 level cross­ings in the city to see if grade sep­a­ra­tion – where bridges or tun­nels are built to keep mo­torists and pedes­tri­ans off the tracks – is needed.

Con­vert­ing all 22 would cost more than $100 mil­lion, paid for by ratepay­ers with some money from the government.

The up­grade as­sess­ment be­gan just a week be­fore a woman in a wheel­chair was struck by a train at the Morn­ing­side Drive level cross­ing on Fe­bru­ary 25.

She is still in crit­i­cal con­di­tion at Auck­land Hospi­tal.

Last week­end the path­way at the cross­ing where her wheel­chair be­came stuck caus­ing the crash was re­placed by Kiwi Rail.

Auck­land Trans­port has looked into grade sep­a­ra­tion be­fore and iden­ti­fied four pri­or­ity sites.

The top rank­ing is Ma­nuroa Rd in Takanini, fol­lowed by St Jude St in Avon­dale, Morn­ing­side Drive, and lastly Wood- ward Rd in Mt Al­bert.

It has $1.06 mil­lion al­lo­cated for the 2014 to 2016 fi­nan­cial years to be used for de­tailed in­ves­ti­ga­tion and de­sign at the sites.

An Auck­land Trans­port spokesman says the as­sess­ment is look­ing at the num­bers of peo­ple us­ing the cross­ings and the vol­umes of traf­fic around them.

He says the new as­sess­ment could al­ter the pri­or­ity or­der.

Al­bert-Eden Lo­cal Board mem­ber Graeme Easte spoke to the Auck­land Coun­cil’s trans­port com­mit­tee about grade sep­a­ra­tion on Wed­nes­day.

In the past seven years there have been 12 near misses and two in­jury ac­ci­dents at Morn­ing­side Drive.

There have been nine near col­li­sions at Wood­ward Rd in the past six years ( Auck­land City Har­bour News, De­cem­ber 5, 2012).

‘‘We are deal­ing with the ab­so­lute cer­tainty that there will be ac­ci­dents as long as we have a net­work of level cross­ings,’’ Mr Easte says.

He asked that Auck­land Trans­port’s $1.06 mil­lion be brought for­ward so work could be­gin in July this year and that the coun­cil al­lo­cate more fund­ing to the work.

‘‘We know it’s go­ing to cost mil­lions so we wouldn’t be wrong to start al­lo­cat­ing some money to start knock­ing th­ese off one by one. This is­sue has been iden­ti­fied for a decade and apart from the Auck­land Re­gional Coun­cil that did put money aside some years ago, no­body has done any­thing.

‘‘Please can we move from do­ing al­most noth­ing to mak­ing a start on do­ing some­thing real,’’ he says.

Mr Easte says the cost dic­tates that the work will need to be done pro­gres­sively and so tem­po­rary safety mea­sures should be looked into.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Vi­tal work: The path­way at the Morn­ing­side Dr level cross­ing has been re­placed af­ter a woman in a wheel­chair be­came stuck and was hit by a train last month.

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