A review of the Hewletts Road railway pedestrian level crossing after the recent tragedy involving an 11-year-old student from Mount Maunganui Intermediate School has seen Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, KiwiRail and Tauranga City Council bring forward plans to improve safety.
“This was very traumatic for all those involved. We offer our condolences to the whānau on the loss of a much-loved family member, and acknowledge the distressing impact on the school, the wider community, and our staff,” says KiwiRail Chief of Operations Siva Sivapakkiam.
Some immediate improvements will be made to both sides of the crossing with the installation of a paved and fenced pedestrian maze and additional fencing to prevent crossing at other areas along the track. Design is underway and construction is expected to begin in coming weeks, with completion expected by mid-November 2023.
“We are always looking for ways to work with Waka Kotahi and local councils to improve safety at crossings and the maze is one way of doing this,” says Mr Sivapakkiam.
A pedestrian maze is a specially designed walkway to slow people down before they walk over the tracks, prompting them to look up and down the track before crossing.
Anna Somerville, Manager Transport Network Safety and Sustainability for Tauranga City Council says, “we are happy to facilitate delivery of the pedestrian maze to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists using this crossing point.”
While the short-term safety improvements are underway, Waka Kotahi, Tauranga City Council and KiwiRail will continue working on the long-term plan to further increase safety at this railway pedestrian level crossing.
David Speirs, Director Regional Relationships for Waka Kotahi in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty says improvements to the crossing are proposed in the wider Connecting Mount Maunganui project where Waka Kotahi is working with council and iwi partners on solutions to boost more travel choices, improve safety, travel time reliability and environmental outcomes.
“These solutions require significant investment and time to implement, so it’s good to see our collective organisations coming together to develop something that will immediately improve safety at the crossing,” says Mr Speirs.
The short-term safety improvements are being jointly funded with KiwiRail funding the design process and Tauranga City Council and Waka Kotahi funding the construction.
Information on the Connecting Mount Maunganui project here.