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Byron Shire
June 20, 2021

Coolamon Scenic Dr black spots ‘in 2017-8 budget’

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A man was hospitalised after this car rolled on Coolamon Scenic Drive in March 2014.
A man was hospitalised after this car rolled on Coolamon Scenic Drive in March 2014.

Chris Dobney

Byron Shire Council says it will be the second half of next year at earliest before it is in a position to undertake a speed review of sections of dangerous Coolamon Scenic Drive, let alone make changes to signage or line marking.

Coolamon resident Anthony Stante, who was also a project manager on the Ballina Bypass upgrade from 2007-11, says he was horrified to discover recently that the road had been added to the Hinterland Way tourist route without the review, promised in 2015, having even been commenced.

This 2014 crash on Coolamon Scenic Drive also involved speeding. Photo supplied
This 2014 crash on Coolamon Scenic Drive also involved speeding. Photo supplied

Byron council’s traffic committee recommended in February 2015, ‘That a review of delineation measures, such as guide posts, advisory curve markers, speeds, and line centre marking etc be undertaken and implemented as found warranted on Coolamon Scenic Drive, between Goonengerry Road and the Pacific Highway.’

But that review has yet to be started, and could still be as much as 18 months away, according to the council.

‘We have waited for action for 30 months, Mr Stante told Echonetdaily.

‘In the meantime, council amazingly agreed with RMS to signpost an extension of Tourist Route 28 from the old highway right the way along bringing even more tourists to our substandard local road.

‘Residents were not consulted on this extension to the tourist route,’ he said.

This car ran off Coolamon Scenic Drive during wet weather in February last year. Photo Brad Garnham
This car ran off Coolamon Scenic Drive during wet weather in February last year. Photo Brad Garnham

23 crashes in 5 years

In particular, Mr Stante is concerned about a 11.3km length of road, which the council says averages 1,362 vehicles per day.

The traffic committee recognised at the time that the stretch of road had seen ‘23 crashes in the five years to 30 June 2013 (18 of them leaving road/out of control, 13 due to speed).’

But the committee also admitted that the RMS would need to fund, or advise of further funding options, for the review and changes to signage and line marking.

Mr Stante said residents had also ‘consulted with RMS seeking Black Spot funding to assist Council with the work.’

‘In the meantime, we keep getting run off our local road, our school buses and kids are put in danger by impatient speeding drivers,’ he said.

‘It’s a popular tourist route also used by many impatient locals. How many more incidents or worse will it take to get well overdue action from Council?,’ Mr Stante said.

Byron council responds

Byron Shire Council’s director of infrastructure services, Phil Holloway, said Mr Stante’s requests for works on Coolamon Scenic Road ‘are part of the 2017/18 budget proposal.’

He said that, if approved, the $30,000 will ‘provide a speed review of the 11 kilometre stretch of road and help fund the review outcomes such as signage and line marking. ‘

Mr Holloway said whilst he understood Mr Stante’s frustration, ‘if the proposed budget for 2017/18 was adopted, the work could commence.’

Mr Stante said, ‘Residents fully support attracting more tourists to the area but demand overdue safety measures to be installed as recommended many months ago by our local traffic committee.’

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  1. I am wondering if the Coolamon Scenic drive from the Mullumbimby Golf Course , up the hill to Goonengerry Rd, is included in this? The amount of traffic going to a popular Tourist facility, on what is a very narrow winding road, has also been considered as dangerous?
    Signage at least, advising that it is a busy narrow winding road is called for.

    • Yes. How the portion of the road between Myocum Road and Goonengary Road could be omitted is beyond belief. Surely this is the most dangerous section of the road, and signage all the way from the Pacific Highway directs tourists through that section to the Crystal Castle and the Scenic Route. Such an omission would be an enormous oversight.

      The absence of line markings encourages drivers to drive in the middle and exceed safe speeds all along Coolamon Scenic. Can it be of such an expense that years go by before line markings can be accommodated in a council budget on this dangerous road?

      Another puzzling fact is that Google Maps and Apple Maps direct users to utilise Possum Shoot to gain access to Coolamon Scenic Drive, including truckies and clueless tourists, when this is arguably the most dangerous, narrow, winding, fragile length of road in the shire, whilst being devoid of proper signage, line markings, or specified speed limit. Surely council could instruct these mapping apps to suggest safer, more appropriate routes, and provide better signage and line markings. Requests from this private citizens have gone unheeded.

  2. The speeds allowed on country roads in Australia are 10 – 20 kph than are common in Europe and Japan. The 80kph commonly allowed on narrow roads around the Northern Rivers is better than before, but would be considered far to fast in countries that have brought down their accident, injury and death rates to well below our levels. People in our region are better educated, concerned about the environment they live in and are less likely to share the ignorant libertarian attitude of much of rural Australia that demands the right to thunder at high speed in behemoths down rural roads. As such our councils are well places to implement policies on the roads they control, such as those implemented in Scandinavian countries that target zero deaths on the roads. Councils though need to go beyond the guidelines used in Australia for speed limits, which empirically have not reduce speeds to the level that stops death or serious injury. Lower speeds are also the reason people in Europe cycle and allow their children to cycle on rural roads. Lower rural road speeds,along with good lane making, and the construction of better edges on corners and crests with poor visibility, could create a network of cycling routes at relatively low cost that would complement the rail trail in attracting cycle tourists, get some people and their kids out of their cars and onto bikes, and provide a safer driving environment for the majority who use cars.


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