Overbridge risk worries principal
Principal's safety concerns for Dannevirke kidsLUCY TOWNEND
A Dannevirke school principal has raised concerns about the safety of a well-trodden footbridge used by students near his school, but the bridge is staying open, for now.
Dannevirke High School principal Dawid de Villiers said the Christian St footbridge, which crosses the railway lines running parallel to Queen St, was likely to become a safety risk.
He said the footbridge's structure was not the only problem, he also had concerns about the road's layout and high level of traffic.
"I am worried about our students. That road and that bridge is an accident waiting to happen.
"We've been very blessed that nothing has happened there yet."
There were three safe options to cross the railway track, Dr de Villiers said.
One was on Cole St, 600 metres from the school gates on Grant St, another was Allardice St, 700m away, and the third was using the footbridge, which was 150m away from the school gates.
Sometimes people darted across the tracks at any point they thought was suitable, Dr de Villiers said.
"That's not just our students, that's all of the community, because [cutting across] is an easy access way to get to downtown."
Some changes needed to be made to the footbridge and surrounding roads to ensure the safety of students and the wider community, Dr de Villiers said.
"The bridge should be removed due to the safety aspects . . . but we still need a safe way for students to cross the railway line."
Tararua District Council engineering services manager Ray Cannon said the council was keeping an eye on the issue.
"It's not a major safety concern, but we're raising the flag that it's got to be looked at," he said.
"We can't ignore it . . . If it does become a safety issue, it will get moved up the priority chain.
"The end of story is if we looked at the bridge and it's unsafe we'll have to close it."
The council is in discussions with KiwiRail about the future of safe crossing options. Any repairs, replacement or removal of the bridge is owner KiwiRail's decision.
A KiwiRail spokeswoman said the crossing was regularly inspected.
"It is still safe to use, we have, however, noted that some work is required . . . and have begun the process of getting that under way as soon as possible."
KiwiRail recently declined a council application to install a level crossing with moveable barrier arms because of the layout of the railway lines.
"A level crossing could not be put in this area as it is a passing loop . . . because one train stops while the other passes it, there would be times when a train might be stationary there for an extended period, blocking the crossing."
KiwiRail said there were no plans to close the footbridge and the company would continue to liaise with the council.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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