Upgrade planned for Elles Rd intersection

Lake St was the site of a crash between a train and a logging truck earlier in September.
John Hawkins/Stuff

Lake St was the site of a crash between a train and a logging truck earlier in September.

One of Invercargill's most hazardous intersections is set for a major upgrade. 

The NZ Transport Agency is working towards improving the south Invercargill intersection of State Highway 1 and Elles Rd. 

Consultancy firm Opus has been hired to work on the redesign, which will convert the current T-intersection into a roundabout. 

The agency has categorised the area as a "high-risk intersection", because of the number of crashes in the past five years. 

Transport agency project manager Jason Forbes said there were visibility issues at the current intersection, particularly for drivers turning onto the highway from Elles Rd. 

The new design also includes the option to add a fourth leg to the roundabout, which would connect to the industrial area at Lake St (200m south of the roundabout).

Forbes said there was currently a "big problem" at Lake St.

"The industrial area there is constantly growing, with hundreds of heavy vehicles coming in and out every day."

There have been two crashes on Lake St in the past five months, with the most recent involving a train, which crashed into a logging truck earlier this month. 

Three people suffered minor injuries following the crash.

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Forbes said the  agency's preferred option would be to construct the fourth leg of the roundabout, but that was dependent on approval from the Invercargill City Council, as the proposed road would cross over council land. 

If it were to go ahead, the current access point from Lake St to the highway could be closed off permanently, Forbes said.  

"If the Invercargill City Council can come to the party, we might be able to close off some of the other streets as well, such as Hyde St."

Forbes said if the new route to Lake St did not happen, then there were plans to widen the current road and introduce a right turn bay next to the Bluff Highway. 

The issue of the intersection improvements was discussed at council's Infrastructure and Planning committee meeting on Monday night.

Council roading manager Russell Pearson said he was currently working with the chairman of the committee to make a submission to the agency, on behalf of the council. 

"The NZTA have invited us to give some feedback on their proposal to council.

"We'll certainly be providing some feedback to them on the options and we're quite keen to see the alternative for Lake St, but that obviously comes at a cost. 

"That's part of what we will want to talk about, if there's a need for council's involvement, then what is it and how much is that money."

Pearson said, in any case, the council was committed to upgrading safety around the rail crossing in the area. 

"Rail crossing bells and lights and barrier arms, that's the sort of area where council will want to contribute anyway.

"We're pretty sure either scheme will have to have those, with the amount of traffic movements going in and out of there. 

"No matter which option you go for, there's still a need to travel across the rail crossing ... people still have to make sure it's safe before they go over the crossing."

On September 27, a public open day will be held at the South Alive Community Hub, where agency and Opus staff will be available to answer questions from the public. 

Forbes said once the current investigation and detailed design work had been completed, construction could begin by late 2018.

 - Stuff

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