Plans to reinforce barrier at crash site 'substandard'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 September, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 September, 2004, 12:00am

A taller, stronger barrier will be installed on a flyover from which a container truck plunged last month.

But the measures, announced by the Transport Department yesterday after a review of the accident on August 17, have been criticised for not going far enough.

The height of crash barriers on the flyover, which leads to Ching Cheung Road in Shekkipmei, will be increased from 1.25 metres to 1.5 metres. Stronger steel poles and top rails will be installed.

'The Highways Department is now carrying out detailed designs on the strengthening works,' a Transport Department spokesman said.

But Lo Kok-keung, a scientific officer with the department of mechanical engineering at Polytechnic University who visited the accident scene, said the barriers should be at least 1.57 metres to cover the centre of gravity of large vehicles.

Barriers installed overseas are also at least 1.57 metres high.

The Transport Department is considering whether to ban trucks from the road, but Shamshuipo District Council, which covers the area, is worried this could lead to trucks being rerouted through urban areas.

The spokesman said: 'Some Shamshuipo District Council members indicated it would not be desirable to route container vehicles through the urban areas. The department agreed that this was an important factor to be considered and will continue to consult the trade and the district council.'

Mr Lo said that providing better barriers and road signs were installed, the flyover should still be safe for heavy vehicles.

'The most important thing would be self-discipline of road users because no matter how strong the protection is, if drivers are driving recklessly fast then the protection would still fail.'

He said the speed limit on the flyover should be lowered from 50km/h to 20km/h if it continued to be used by heavy vehicles.

The Transport Department will also trim trees to provide motorists with a clearer view of the bend. The number of warning signs will also be increased.

On August 17, a truck demolished a 25-metre stretch of safety barrier before plunging to the road below. Dozens of people living in Peony House on So Uk Estate had to be evacuated after the container, holding 18 tonnes of metal goods, broke loose from the truck and plunged onto a slope.

The driver is in stable condition.