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Highway barriers spark protest

COMMUNITY concern over centreline safety barriers dominated a public information session about the $50 million Black Spur realignment at the Koonwarra Hall last Wednesday.

The session was held to inform the public about the major South Gippsland Highway works to build a straighter, safer section of highway than the existing dangerous bends.

While the community applauded VicRoads for the Black Spur works, people were concerned the centreline barriers would actually be more dangerous than the existing highway.

The barriers are proposed to be built down the middle of various sections of the highway between Leongatha and Meeniyan. An overtaking lane is also proposed.

Leongatha’s Jim Baum, a former head of the region’s traffic police unit, welcomed the Black Spur realignment and the overtaking lane, but expressed his anxiety about the barriers.

He said while the barriers had been proven to prevent head-on collisions, as a motorcyclist he said the barriers left little room for motorcylists in the event of an emergency, such as to avoid a diesel spill.

“People come from all over the country through this area to attend major motorcycling events at Phillip Island and the barriers are not going to give them a chance,” Mr Baum said.

“The barriers are going to prevent fatalities but I’m not sure they’re in the right place.

“They would really need to widen the road between Leongatha and Meeniyan.”

He said the centreline barriers would be better suited to the vicinity of the intersection of Whitelaws Track and the highway at Korumburra, where he said there have been three fatalities in the last 12 or so years.

The Strzelecki Highway was another stretch of road in need of safety improvements, he said.

Koonwarra’s Harry Forrester said accident statistics did not warrant the barriers between Koonwarra and Leongatha, but the Black Spur project was necessary.

“As a CFA member, the straightening of the highway is terrific. As far as motor accidents go, that (Black Spur) has been by far the largest percentage for our (Koonwarra) brigade in recent years,” he said.

Koonwarra’s Robert Spratt said, “A lot of accidents around here are caused by lack of maintenance. Down here you can rip a wheel off because the roads are lacking in maintenance.

“We get a lot of night-time rain and once you get rain, you can’t see the potholes.”

VicRoads staff were on hand to discuss the barriers at an information session last Wednesday.

Lindsay Love, secretary of the South Gippsland Action Group, has written to VicRoads saying the highway needed to be wider to accommodate the centreline barriers south of Leongatha.

“It would seem that a new wire rope barrier along the centre line would limit the lanewidth to around five metres or slightly wider,” Mr Love said.

“This is much less than the highway at Koo Wee Rup where there are two traffic lanes in each direction, along with a sealed shoulder creating a carriage width of perhaps eight-plus metres.  This extra width is vitally important.”

Mr Love said if a heavy vehicle float carrying an excavator broke down, the highway would be blocked, and increased risk to cyclists.

David Gellion, VicRoads’ project delivery manager, South Eastern Projects, said up to 45 people attended the information session, hailing from Koonwarra, Leongatha, Welshpool, Korumburra and Mirboo.

“Most people were reasonably happy with the Black Spur Realignment Project and we received positive feedback. There was a lot of feedback provided to the project team about the adjacent road safety project between Leongatha and Meeniyan,” he said.

“Members from the Safe System project team did attend and were able to provide direct feedback to these people.
“Topics raised included the rail trail and links to the old highway, intersections and safety and what will happen to the old road when the project is completed.”

Local knowledge: from left, Harry Forrester of Koonwarra and Jim Baum of Leongatha discuss the realignment of the Black Spur and centreline safety barriers at the VicRoads’ project information session at the Koonwarra Hall last Wednesday.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=22239

Posted by on Aug 15 2017. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

1 Comment for “Highway barriers spark protest”

  1. As usual Vicroads ignore their own guidelines…
    This from their own “Road Guide Notes” https://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/~/media/files/technical-documents-new/road-design-notes/road-design-note-0602–the-use-of-wire-rope-safety-barriers-wrsb.pdf

    (quote) “WRSB should be avoided on popular motorcycle routes due to
    the current motorcycle community perception that WRSB is
    especially hazardous for riders. While no direct evidence of
    increased injury from the ropes has been found, safety barrier
    posts present the greatest risk for motorcyclist injury and in
    these situations, guard fence with crash tested under-run is
    advised over WRSB with post cushions.” (end quote)

    Also looking at “outer verges” there is a recommendation of a minimum offset of 3.0m to provide adequate width for a vehicle to stop clear of the traffic lane and barrier, Seems this is also regularly disregarded if the placement of many current wire rope barriers is any indication. :/

    I find it disgusting that Vicroads happily endanger vulnerable road users, especially motorcyclists with their obsession with wire rope barriers.

    If they devoted as much time and money in keeping our roads properly maintained as they do slapping these “cheese-cutters” on every road in the country then I suspect that would have a far greater impact in reducing accidents and lives lost…
    My 2 cents worth.. 🙂

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