Road deaths are emotive issues and the tragic death at the corner of Bruxner Highway and Ballina Road a fortnight ago has led to the Nationals Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW, Ben Franklin rightly drawing the attention of Roads Minister Melinda Pavey to the issue.
Minister Pavey inspected the site yesterday, alongside Mr Franklin, Ballina Mayor David Wright and RMS Northern Region Manager John Alexander.
‘The Minister and the RMS have agreed to a three stage process for this intersection,’ Mr Franklin said.
‘First, flashing warning signs will be erected next week on the approaches to the intersection to raise the awareness of motorists of the potential danger,’ he said.
‘Second, a new lane for traffic turning left into Ballina Road will be constructed, to separate it from the traffic heading toward Ballina. Construction should be complete by early November,’ Mr Franklin said.
‘Third, a rigorous assessment and analysis of the site will be made to consider what further improvements are needed, possibly traffic lights, a roundabout or grade separation,’ he said.
Coolamon Scenic Drive
But there are other deaths that have not garnered quite the same reaction. Following a fatality in late 2013 and regular accidents that occur on Coolamon Scenic Drive, agitation from locals brought their concerns about the roads safety to the attention of the RMS and Byron Shire Council.
Finally, RMS funded a road safety evaluation that was conducted in June 2017 and identified numerous ‘intolerable’ risks that were supposed to require immediate action.
While Byron Shire Council has completed 75 per cent of road markings required the other areas identified as ‘intolerable’ risks are the ‘Limited advance warning signs and/or advisory signs on many curves and several curves along the road are not delineated by chevron alignment markers, guideposts or line marking,’ said a Byron Shire Council spokesperson.
Council has now applied for funding from the RMS to address the issues but it is part of a funding package that won’t see the funding come through until 2019/20.
‘If Council is successful with its grant applications these risks, along with most risks deemed “high” and “medium” will be rectified,’ Council’s spokesperson confirmed.
In 2016 residents were surprised to hear that Council and the RMS had agreed to extend tourist route 28 to include Coolamon Scenic Drive, adding more traffic to the already dangerous road.
This was recently compounded by the release of a tourist map by Council identifying this route for tourists with one outraged local saying that Council should not encourage tourists to take this dangerous route.
Requests to RMS minster
Locals residents have been working with their member for Ballina, Tamara Smith in an effort to get funding brought forward to ensure the ‘intolerable’ risks are dealt with as soon as possible.
On 2 August 2018 Greens MP, member for Ballina Tamara Smith sent a letter to RMS Minister Melinda Pavey, raising road safety concerns about Coolamon Scenic Drive, making particular reference to the safety issues highlighted by the RMS’s own June 2017 road safety audit and asking when the planned critical speed advisory signs and chevron arrow curve signs for Coolamon Scenic Drive would be installed.
‘I support the community’s request for funding to be specifically targeted towards the new tourist route on Coolamon Scenic Drive given the safety concerns that have been identified and I have written to the Minister asking for this,’ said Ms Smith.
♦ Prior to Minister Pavey’s visit Echonetdaily sought comment on the likelihood of the funding for addressing the ‘intolerable’ risks being accelerated from both her office and the office of Nationals Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW, Ben Franklin but received no comment by deadline.