Family want rail crossing improved
Marlborough's dismal rail safety history has prompted district councillors to go back to a Ward family with an offer to share costs to change the shape of a road where it crosses the railway line.
Marlborough Roads staff had recommended to the council's assets and services committee to make minor changes to the crossing - repairing the road seal and repainting road markings and signage - to meet KiwiRail requirements, costing about $5000.
The West family, which owns two properties near the railway crossing of Wests Rd, wanted the road to be re-aligned so it crossed the rail track straight on, rather than at an angle. That would require earthworks, which the council had offered to pay for if the Wests paid to move a power pole and a cattle stop.
It would cost about $50,000.
The offer fell over as the Wests thought more earthworks were needed, the council report says.
KiwiRail and the NZ Transport Agency have assessed the safety of all rail crossings, in a report to be published next month, and Marlborough Roads senior assets manager Steve Murrin said that assessment rated the Wests Rd crossing as "medium-high risk" for infrastructure, but that was downgraded to an overall "low-medium risk", mainly because of the low volume of traffic.
Councillor Geoff Evans argued that made the risk higher because people were less aware of trains.
He said the cost of making the crossing safer was less than had been spent on a Blenheim central business district roundabout.
"The Wests pay considerable rates, that have just gone up by 22 per cent.
"They should get some return."
Councillor Peter Jerram said the safety aspect was critical.
"Someone could lose their life and we'd regret it. I don't think that's acceptable."
Councillor David Dew said there was a history of rail accidents and deaths in the district, and he felt the council should have a proper assessment of it.
The councillors voted to leave the offer to the West family on the table, and undertook to make a site visit and to re-open negotiations with the Wests to see if a solution could be reached.
- The Marlborough Express