Proposed weigh station sparks crash fears

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The proposed site of a heavy vehicle weigh station at the northern end of the State Highway 1...
The proposed site of a heavy vehicle weigh station at the northern end of the State Highway 1 Rakaia River bridge has raised road safety concerns.
A heavy vehicle weigh station on State Highway 1 just north of the Rakaia Bridge has Ashburton District councillors and Rakaia fire chief Tyrone Burrowes worried about road safety.

NZ Transport Agency wants to build the weigh station on land between the river and North Rakaia Road, with trucks required to turn in if sensors suspect they are overweight.

Councillors believe the spot is dangerous and with up to nine trucks an hour expected, the potential for crashes is high.

Slow-moving trucks entering and leaving the weigh station created potential for traffic to back up and accidents to occur.

Mr Burrowes said he supported council’s concerns. The area between the river bridge and the overhead rail bridge was already a vulnerable spot.

Any slow-moving, heavy vehicles there would be a hassle and any crash would cause traffic to build up quickly and block the highway.

"If the council has a concern about it there, I am on their side as well."

Technically, the weigh station site is in the Selwyn District Council and out of the Ashburton council’s patch but councillors have been given an opportunity to voice their concerns because NZTA has asked for an easement on land south of the Rakaia bridge on which to erect a sign alerting truck drivers to the weigh station ahead.

Councillors decided not to grant or decline the easement at their meeting in December, opting instead for the request to lie on the table until resource consents for the weigh station had been dealt with by the Selwyn council.

Cr Liz McMillan said the only other NZTA weigh station in Canterbury was near Waipara on a straight stretch of road with easy access.

The proposed Rakaia site was the exact opposite, she said.

Cr Diane Rawlinson said the site was in a highly dangerous place.

"If a person or a farmer wanted to put something as significant as this on the highway it would be denied. They are going against their own safety rules."

Mayor Neil Brown said a better site would be south of Rakaia on industrial land near the Ravensdown depot.

The northern site would have flow-on effects for Mid Canterbury people who used the bridge, he said.

"We are not roading engineers but we can see it does not look right."

Council staff said resource applications for the site had proposals to deal with the stretch of highway in the area. Work on the Ashburton side was within designated highway area and outside council’s control, except for the piece of reserve land needed for the variable messaging sign.

The weigh station is one of 12 Weigh Right stations to be installed around the country. The aim of the Weigh Right programme is to regulate and monitor heavy vehicle loads.

Weigh-in-motion sensors and automatic number plate recognition cameras will be installed on or adjacent to State Highway 1 before the station and the variable messaging sign will direct drivers to pull over at the station.

 

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