Footbridge being built as safety measure

Waitaki District Council contractors construct a wooden footbridge over a section of the Oamaru Steam and Rail Society’s track near Harbourside Station in Oamaru yesterday. Photo: Daniel Birchfield
Waitaki District Council contractors construct a wooden footbridge over a section of the Oamaru Steam and Rail Society’s track near Harbourside Station in Oamaru yesterday. Photo: Daniel Birchfield
A small but important measure to improve safety at an at times ''hectic'' street corner near Oamaru's Victorian precinct will make a difference, Oamaru Steam and Rail Society general manager Harry Andrew says.

A short wooden footbridge is being constructed over a section of track near Harbourside Station at the busy intersection of Humber, Itchen and Tyne Sts, where people often congregate to take photographs or admire the Steampunk HQ building and steampunk-themed train.

However, Mr Andrew said that often made it difficult for motorists turning left from Itchen St into Humber St, or driving straight from Itchen St to the rear of the precinct, to see traffic approaching from Humber St.

To help reduce the chance of an accident as the tourism season loomed, the bridge was being built to encourage people to step back from the street corner and give them a safer place to cross the track.

''We get two or three busloads at times, so there could be 100 or so people around there. It's better for the cars driving around there and it gives people a bit more distance from the corner, and a crossing people can walk over.''

The bridge was being built by Waitaki District Council contractors after Mr Andrew approached council officers with his concerns.

Council roading manager Mike Harrison said the solution was agreed on after discussions with Mr Andrew and could be used on other sections of track owned by the society, which extend from the station to the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony.

However, it would not apply to the main track line.

The project has been funded through the council's maintenance budget, he said.

Earlier this year the society installed barrier arms to better control vehicle traffic at the intersection after several close calls between its train and motorists, who at times ignored warning lights and bells when the train approached.

daniel.birchfield@odt.co.nz

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