A main highway used to bypass Hamilton but cursed with a dangerous rail crossing is to be closed for the foreseeable future because there is no funding for a safe solution.
But Waka Kotahi said it would try again by putting the stretch of road up for funding in the 2024 to 2027 cycle.
State Highway 1B, also known as Telephone Road, was the main travel route for people wanting to bypass Hamilton and continue south.
But, the section of road that intersected with a rail crossing had been closed since April last year after a low vehicle dislodged train tracks for the third time.
“Unfortunately there is no funding available for a safe solution during the current funding cycle,” Waka Kotahi regional manager of maintenance and operations Rob Campbell said.
An investigation found low-cost solutions failed to meet safety requirements, with safe solutions estimated to cost between $8 and $11 million.
The report looked at all the available solutions, including the low-cost solutions put forward by the community.
It also took into account the opening of the Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway, and the resulting lower levels of traffic.
“However we will put the Telephone Road rail crossing forward for consideration in the 2024-27 funding cycle,” Campbell said.
“This does not guarantee that the project will receive funding as all projects across the country are weighted and scrutinised to determine priorities.”
A small group of community representatives would now meet with Waka Kotahi, KiwiRail and Waikato District Council to discuss the best option to put forward for funding.
Campbell said the rail crossing was one of the most dangerous in the country, and damage to tracks could cause a derailment on the increasingly busy line between Hamilton and Tauranga.
“Until we can go through the funding application process the only safe option that meets the safety requirements of Waka Kotahi and KiwiRail is for the crossing to remain closed.
“We realise that this decision will be disappointing for the local community, and we apologise for the inconvenience that this causes.”
Waka Kotahi was planning to build a pedestrian and cyclist crossing over the railway line, with a school bus stop on the Holland Road side, subject to final approval from KiwiRail.
The agency had entrenched the barriers blocking the road and installed CCTV cameras after people repeatedly moved the safety barriers and continued to use the road anyway.
*This story originally appeared onStuff.
Story Credit: rnz.co.nz