STATE Liberals and Nationals have pledged, if elected, to suspend the “blanket roll-out” of wire rope and flexible metal barriers, and redirect money towards road safety measures on country roads.
Gippsland East MLA Tim Bull said he had been calling on Roads Minister Luke Donnellan since October to delay implementation of the wire rope and flexible metal barriers project so that its “flawed implementation can be fixed”.
“I am delighted shadow cabinet has now adopted this position,” he said.
“The Liberal-Nationals support properly placed and installed wire rope barriers.
“If done properly, they can prevent some serious accidents and they can save lives.
“However, we are concerned that the latest round of barriers are being installed without proper planning and consultation, and are making some roads more dangerous instead of safer.”
Some of the specific concerns about the latest installations include impeding access and manoeuvrability for emergency services, with paramedics and the CFA flagging concerns; compromising motorcycle safety if a rider connects with a barrier; wire rope barriers being installed too close to the side of the road, inhibiting drivers pulling over safely in the case of a flat tyre or a breakdown; and considerable vegetation growth under barrier ropes which pose a significant fire risk and maintenance issues.
Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien said the Coalition would establish a working group to look into how barriers could be used more strategically to save lives.
“If used strategically, wire rope barriers can save lives, but Labor’s rushed roll-out is driving local motorists mad,” he said.
“The speed with which the latest program is being rolled out has raised questions about where the barriers are installed on the roadside, with some barriers much closer to the white line than the recommended minimum of four meters from lanes.
“People are concerned about safety if they have to pull over.
“Gippsland emergency service workers have expressed concern about how much of a hindrance the barriers could be in fire situations or for ambulance access, particularly in areas where there are not enough breaks in the barrier to allow access.”
Mr O’Brien said the review of the barriers would include consultation with organisations including the CFA and RACV to determine a commonsense approach to their placement and extent of their implementation.
In parliament, Mr O’Brien called on the Labor government to investigate the role of new centre line flexible metal safety barriers after a truck accident on the Princes Highway near Sale last week.
Shadow Roads Minister David Hodgett said the premier had botched the installation of barriers, which was “putting the lives of motorists and emergency services at risk”.
“Daniel Andrews has ignored maintaining and repairing Victoria’s regional roads for the last three years and as a result they have become dangerous,” he said.
“Too many of our regional roads have large and dangerous potholes as well as crumbling bitumen on road shoulders which need urgent repair, rather than wire rope put up along the edges.”