Safety improvements for the intersection of State Highway1 and State Highway93 on Mataura’s Main St are a step closer.
Several agencies are lobbying the NZ Transport Agency to carry out more than $1million in safety improvement work.
Gore District Council is preparing a business case for the proposed changes to the intersection which will be presented to the NZTA.
Otago and Southland regional transport committees believe there is an urgent need to improve safety at the intersection.
Otago Regional Council former strategic and transport planning manager Jane Turnbull wrote to NZTA director of regional relationships (South Island) Jim Harland on behalf of the combined regional transport committees, urging the authority to list the intersection in its draft investment proposal.
“State Highway 1 and State Highway 93 provides a quicker, shorter route north-south than State Highway 1 and is used by heavy vehicles that do not need to travel via Gore,” Mrs Turnbull said in the letter.
The railway line ran parallel with SH1 through the intersection.
“Trucks that enter the intersection from SH93 are unable to pull up to the limit line, to determine whether it is safe to enter SH1, without straddling the railway line,” she said.
Rather than straddling the railway line, drivers were using a slip lane to turn south and, in order to turn north, either making a U-turn on SH1 or travelling around the block on local roads.
“The latter route travels past Mataura School on Oakland St.”
There was potential for new industry to prompt an increase in heavy traffic volumes.
Mr Harland said, in a reply, the intersection was a difficult project to define because of where it could potentially be included in the programme – as either a small improvement or as a low-cost, low-risk improvement.
“Because the cost has been established as greater than the $1million threshold, it will now need to be included in the TAIP [programme of work] as an improvement project,” Mr Harland said in the letter.
The NZTA recognised the importance of the project and was considering whether it could be brought forward in the programme, he said.
Mataura Community Board chairman Alan Taylor said the need for improvements to be made to the layout of the intersection was discussed at its Monday night board meeting.
Mr Taylor said the intersection was dysfunctional.
There were safety issues surrounding the layout of the intersection.
“And we would like to see how it can be rectified.
“It’s been a concern for many years and we’re hoping we can make some progress.”
Gore District Council roading manager Peter Standring had discussions with NZTA regarding safety concerns and now a business case was being put together.
Originally it was hoped KiwiRail would realign the railway tracks, but it decided not to support the idea, Mr Standring said.
The new proposal would involve a slight realigning of SH1, he said.
“But it comes at a greater cost.
“NZTA will remain committed to work with the council on this issue.”
Environment Southland lead transport planner Russell Hawkes agreed with the sentiment of the letter sent to NZTA.
The major issue was with trucks and trailer units not being able to turn right without trailers being across the railway line.