The rail level crossing at the intersection of Ruffell Rd and Onion Rd in Hamilton will soon be closed to traffic for possibly years to come after being determined as dangerous to those who cross the railway line.
Hamilton City Council says the level crossing will be closed to traffic until safety issues for both road and rail users can be addressed.
How long the Ruffell Rd rail crossing, which is operated by KiwiRail, will remain closed depends on a re-alignment of Onion Rd, a project included in the council's draft 2021-31 Long-Term Plan.
The closure will mean traffic is diverted along Arthur Porter Drive. The council says that recognising the impact this will have on traffic flow through the Arthur Porter Drive/Te Kowhai Rd T intersection, a decision was also made at this week's Infrastructure Operations Committee meeting to upgrade this intersection to a roundabout.
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The re-alignment of Onion Rd, between Koura Drive and Ruffell Rd to connect at the Arthur Porter Drive roundabout, has been proposed for 2028/29. Finalisation of the council's 2021-31 Long-Term Plan in coming weeks will determine the exact timing of this project.
"The decision to close a section of our roading network is not one that is made lightly, and we have been working with KiwiRail to consider all options. However, we now need to take immediate action to ensure the safety of all our road users," said city transportation manager Jason Harrison.
"Through monitoring and assessment of the intersection since changes were made to minimise damage to the railway and roading structures in December last year, we've identified that safety remains a major issue," said Harrison.
"Our staff have monitored the intersection and noted a number of incidences of non-compliant driver behaviour and near misses occurring there. These observations are in line with feedback we have received from the public."
A recent level crossing safety impact assessment, undertaken at the request of KiwiRail, also concluded that the Ruffell Rd level rail crossing is dangerous, with a medium-to-high risk of death or serious injury to those who cross the railway line, the city council says.
"In light of this and through further discussions with KiwiRail and to ensure the health and wellbeing of all who travel in this area, we are recommending that a decision is made to temporarily close the level rail crossing until the safety issues can be addressed," said Harrison.
"Our focus is on providing a transport network that is safe and accessible and closing the level rail crossing aligns with our Vision Zero target."