Otago Daily Times

Over­bridge crash spurs part clo­sure

OA­MARU

- KAYLA HODGE kayla.hodge@odt.co.nz Incidents · Waitaki District Council · Oamaru · KiwiRail

THE Waitaki District Council is not pre­pared to risk an­other se­ri­ous ac­ci­dent at Oa­maru’s Hum­ber St over­bridge.

The council has closed a sec­tion of the street to all traf­fic and is in­ves­ti­gat­ing new sig­nage op­tions af­ter a car was crushed by a large truck that struck the bridge and rolled on to its side on Thurs­day.

The driver of the car, a 43­year­old Oa­maru man, es­caped se­ri­ous in­jury, re­ceiv­ing a bro­ken nose and sev­eral abra­sions but was air­lifted to Dunedin Hos­pi­tal.

It was the third time a truck had crashed into the over­bridge in the past 18 months.

All other op­tions had been ex­hausted, and the street clo­sure was to en­sure pub­lic safety, Waitaki District Council road­ing manager Mike Har­ri­son said.

‘‘I can’t risk hav­ing an­other in­jury — I couldn’t sleep at night,’’ Mr Har­ri­son said.

Af­ter the pre­vi­ous in­ci­dent six months ago, the bridge’s height was sur­veyed and the over­head clear­ance ad­vance warn­ing signs were checked.

The signs were changed from 3.6m to 3m.

‘‘We low­ered it down so that there was less ter­rain for driv­ers to make an in­cor­rect choice but it just didn’t work,’’ he said.

The council was look­ing at in­stalling new signs, which could au­di­bly and vis­ually warn driv­ers of the bridge’s height.

‘‘The idea is to go with some­thing that is a very dif­fer­ent de­sign, some­thing that is go­ing to catch peo­ple’s at­ten­tion, rather than re­ly­ing on them just look­ing.

‘‘There [are] so many signs on the roads now . . . Signs by them­selves don’t change driv­ers’ be­hav­iour.’’

Driv­ers should al­ways check the clear­ance signs, and know their ve­hi­cle’s height, he said.

The sec­tion of street would be re­open next week but heavy ve­hi­cle ac­cess would be re­stricted un­til new signs were in­stalled.

Mr Har­ri­son ac­knowl­edged there would be some dis­rup­tion but said it was im­por­tant to ‘‘de­ploy all avail­able re­sources in the hope that we can pre­vent this hap­pen­ing again’’.

‘‘This is how we can ac­tu­ally en­sure that the dis­rup­tion is only for a short pe­riod, rather than a lengthy re­cov­ery.’’

The council’s road­ing team would con­tinue to mon­i­tor the area closely.

A Ki­wiRail spokesman said the rail line was closed for an hour af­ter the in­ci­dent, and a de­tailed bridge in­spec­tion took place yes­ter­day.

 ??  ?? Re­cur­ring prob­lem . . . There have been sev­eral crashes or cases of trucks get­ting stuck un­der Oa­maru’s Hum­ber St over­bridge in re­cent years.
Re­cur­ring prob­lem . . . There have been sev­eral crashes or cases of trucks get­ting stuck un­der Oa­maru’s Hum­ber St over­bridge in re­cent years.

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