Seddon safety issues raised
Children and other Seddon residents have to dodge state highway traffic to go to school, church, or move from one side of the town to the other because of flood damage and other problems with the road and railway underpasses in the small town south of Blenheim.
Residents and rural police officer Beau Webster told Marlborough District Council's assets and service committee meeting last week that people couldn't cross the state highway safely at the moment.
Mr Webster said he'd had reports of children walking out in front of traffic on the highway and people crossing the railway lines. The road and railway cut the town in half, with most people living on one side, but with the school, sports grounds, shops, and churches on the other.
Seddon has a population of about 500 which swells by another 400 at times with seasonal workers in the Awatere vineyards.
Mr Webster said that even before the flood damage, many people would not use the underpass because it was poorly lit and seen as dangerous. A pedestrian crossing could be a better option.
"A lot of people are too scared to walk under the underpass. Even me, I'd be reluctant to go through there with my partner or kids."
Cr Trevor Hook said that if the underpass was not safe for people to use, there was no point in having it and other options needed to be looked at.
Crs Peter Jerram and Geoff Evans said the safety issues around the road and railway line needed to be addressed. The original item on the committee's agenda was about the Awatere Community Trust Memorial Hall, but the roading and lighting issues needed to be included.
Jessica Bagge, a first-term councillor, said that in the "extremely long time" she had been on the council, the Seddon issues had come up "over and over again". They needed to be addressed.
Marlborough Roads principal asset manager Steve Murrin said that while the underpass was closed, signs had been erected on the highway to warn drivers of the likelihood of pedestrians.
Marlborough Roads had recommended to the school that a parent or teacher supervise the children crossing the road.
Mr Murrin said the New Zealand Transport Agency would cover the cost of the urgent essential repairs to the underpass, which would begin as soon as possible in conjunction with underpass improvements to be made to the ramps and footpath, from council funds.
Improved lighting in the underpass and around the township has also been called for.
Council assets services manager Mark Wheeler said that could be partly funded from the "minor improvements" portion of the NZTA local roading programme which had just been announced. That funding had increased the council's programme by $300,000 this financial year for what are called “minor improvements” and Mr Wheeler said Seddon's street light upgrade could be met from this fund.
“However this would require community support. We have found in past discussions with some Seddon residents that people have opposed street lighting located near their own properties as they regard bright lighting as ‘visual pollution'. So the community would need some kind of consensus on location before this investment was made,” he said.
At the meeting, councillors on the committee approved spending $38,000 to do urgent repairs on the memorial hall, to fix leaks in the roof, fire safety issues, and to upgrade the interior of the hall's ground floor.
These repairs can begin once they're approved by the full council meeting in September.
Mr Wheeler told the committee the hall's long-term future depended on an earthquake risk assessment, and the cost of any needed earthquake-strengthening costs and the cost of long-term maintenance.
That would have to be balanced against the cost of a new community facility.
- The Marlborough Express