Crossings action plea
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.
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.