MEDIA RELEASE: NAPIER PORT, NZTA, KIWIRAIL
28 January 2019
Road users, train drivers, cyclists and pedestrians will be safer once improvements are made to Napier Port’s western entrance on Breakwater Road.
The number of trucks coming to Napier Port is increasing significantly, and so are the number of trains, pedestrians and cyclists crossing its gate. Two trucks have collided with trains over the last year and there have been a number of near misses.
Napier Port has been working with New Zealand Transport Agency and KiwiRail on a plan to make the heavily congested space safer for everyone.
Preparations are being made for installing traffic lights on Breakwater Road and rail barrier arms at the port entrance to manage traffic going in and out of the port.
Push button pedestrian controls will also help pedestrians and cyclists safely navigate the gateway and new flashing lights will make the crossing of the rail line to the nearby beach safer.
Napier Port Chief Executive, Todd Dawson says despite increasing education and signage about the dangers of the gate and numerous physical changes to the gate layout over the years, the risks are still increasing.
“Outside of the serious truck and train collisions, other scary incidents include cars going in or out to park by the beach driving in front of trucks; drivers exiting through the entry into oncoming trucks; and, children running from parked cars towards trucks and trains. We are so grateful to NZTA and KiwiRail for collaborating on this to avoid a future tragedy here.”
NZTA’s Hawke’s Bay-Gisborne Manager – System Management, Oliver Postings, says the large number of people and vehicles in the space makes improving safety complex but the three organisations have worked together to develop a good solution.
“Not only are we improving safety at the gate but the traffic lights will help traffic flow evenly into the port and slow speeds of vehicles coming around the Ahuriri bypass and into the city.”
KiwiRail General Manager Operations – Lower North Island, Anthony Mills, says the crossing is a crucial link for shifting freight from KiwiRail’s Ahuriri yard to the port.
“Making sure the crossing operates safely is our top priority. It’s distressing for our drivers and crews when we see people taking risks in front of our trains – risks that can and do result in serious accidents.”
“Linking the rail barrier arms to the traffic lights should not only prevent trucks crossing in front of trains but it will also mean trucks don’t have their trailers hanging over the rail lines as they exit,” Mr Mills says.
Underground work to install the traffic lights and barrier arms has begun, with the new system intended to be operational from late-February.