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Safety The Key Factor In Decision To Close Ruffell Road Rail Crossing

A dangerous rail crossing at the intersection of Ruffell Road and Onion Road in Hamilton will soon be closed to traffic until safety issues for both road and rail users can be addressed.

The temporary closure of the Ruffell Road level rail crossing, which is operated by KiwiRail, was decided at Hamilton City Council’s Infrastructure Operations Committee meeting this week (Tuesday 27 April 2021).

“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 Council’s City Transportation Manager Jason 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 Road level rail crossing is dangerous with a medium to high risk of death or serious injury to those who cross the railway line.

“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.

The closure will mean traffic is diverted along Arthur Porter Drive. Recognising the impact this will have on traffic flow through the Arthur Porter Drive/Te Kowhai Road ‘T’ intersection, a decision was also made at this week’s meeting to upgrade this intersection to a roundabout.

The length of time the Ruffell Road level rail crossing will remain closed is dependent on a re-alignment of Onion Road, a project included in Council’s draft 2021-31 Long-Term Plan.

The re-alignment of Onion Road, between Koura Drive and Ruffell Road to connect at the Arthur Porter Drive roundabout, has been proposed for 2028/29. Finalisation of Council’s 2021-31 Long-Term Plan in the 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 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.”

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