On the Move

Safety at city intersection to get back on track

A safer solution is in sight for road and rail users at the intersection of Ruffell Road and Onion Road in Hamilton.

Hamilton City Council’s roading team will shortly begin re-aligning the intersection to address safety issues related to vehicles damaging the Ruffell Road railway line barrier arm near the intersection.

“The changes will minimise future damage to the intersection’s railway and roading structures, while increasing safety for both its road and rail traffic,” says Council’s City Transportation Unit Manager Jason Harrison.

“Currently, the intersection’s alignment doesn’t allow heavy vehicles to safely make the left turn out of Onion Road into Ruffell Road, without illegally crossing the centre line.

“In the past, some vehicles turning left have also damaged the railway crossing barrier arm as they’ve driven over the rail tracks. This increases the risk of trains and vehicles colliding if the barrier arm can’t operate properly,” says Harrison.

So far this year, there have been six strikes on the barrier arm, which is designed to minimise damage both to itself and a striking vehicle if hit. The design also makes the arm vulnerable to high winds when it’s upright, so usually a wind fork is in place to protect it while in that position.

However, Harrison says in the latest incident, the wind fork was damaged and has had to be temporarily removed.

In the meantime, KiwiRail has temporarily limited the speed of its trains passing through the intersection to address the safety risk. “We really appreciate them working with us on this to keep the community safe,” says Harrison.

“Obviously, we’d like to get these safety works completed as soon as possible. It’s also important to note that once the works have been completed, the intersection’s flow will be permanently changed. This means it will be illegal for people to either turn left out of Onion Road; or turn right into Onion Road.

“I’d like to reassure people that our roading team will also do their best to minimise any inconvenience to traffic using this intersection during its reconstruction.

“We appreciate road users’ understanding around any minor disruptions or delays caused while the work is carried out, and we encourage them to take care when travelling through the works area while construction is underway. We expect people to observe the new legal turns required at this intersection once the works are finished, so the new layout can make travelling safer for them and for trains passing through it,” says Harrison.

Work programme and permanent traffic flow changes

The upcoming works are part of Hamilton City Council’s safety improvement works. They’ll be carried out by Council’s Infrastructure Alliance team, which is responsible for the maintenance of the city’s roading assets.

The project is due to get underway on Monday 14 December. Construction will be carried out under a stop/go operation over approximately two days, weather permitting.

The full list of permanent changes to traffic flow at this intersection under the new layout are as follows:

  • Traffic will only be able to turn right out of Onion Road into Ruffell Road – it will be illegal to make a left turn.
  • Traffic that would previously have turned left out of Onion Road will therefore need to turn right into Ruffell Road, and then use the roundabout where Ruffell Road meets Arthur Porter Drive to continue the direction of their journey.
  • Alternatively, they can continue along Arthur Porter Drive and use the Te Kowhai Road rail crossing instead, which upgraded last year.
  • There will also be no right turn into Onion Road. Vehicles will again need to turn left and make use of the roundabout to continue the direction of their journey. Therefore, in this case also, it will be illegal to turn right into Onion Road.
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