Property owners are unhappy with barriers

LETTER TO THE EDITOR:

A GROUP of property owners who adjoin the Princes Highway between Stratford and Bairnsdale met last Monday at Highway Fernbank.

Also coupled to the property owners’ concerns are those of regular highway users and representatives of groups who are concerned about restrictions to access or exit to the highway during emergencies.

The main reasons of concern are as follows:

• The nature of the community consultation sessions held in various locations, where the public was “told” as opposed to “engaged” in a discussion as to what is happening with the introduction of centre line barriers between Stratford and Bairnsdale.

• Concerns were raised citing several accidents caused as well as many “near misses”, where people are turning off the highway into entrances, farm gateways and on or off the highway at the Meerlieu-Lindenow Rd. The general concern is that narrowing the highway corridor will increase the risk for accidents where a following truck cannot avoid an accident that occurs in front of the truck, then runs into the vehicles in front of them.

• Concerns were raised as to each of the bridges (Providence Ponds, Tom’s and Emu Creek’s) particularly focused on the narrow shoulders at either end of these bridges, as well as the general state of the road surface along the highway.

• Concerns raised for the safety of public transport users, specifically V/Line bus and commuters catching or exiting the bus at the intersection of the highway and the Meerlieu-Lindenow Rd, particularly on the eastbound side of the highway. Apparently this will be widened, but the plans sighted on February 19 do not show this.

• Concerns raised regarding movement of wide loads of three metres along the highway, where the law currently does not require a pilot vehicle.

• Concerns raised for the safety of regular stopstart exit-entry road users such as school buses, Australia Post mail contractors and couriers.

• Concerns raised that there is only one additional passing lane to be installed, and that the outcome of centre road barriers will increase highway congestion and frustration levels of motorists, causing more accidents, not less.

• Concerns raised that the road shoulder is too narrow for westbound traffic turning onto the Princes Highway from the Bengworden Rd.

• Concerns raised that frustration with the Princes Highway traffic congestion in general will lead to significant increases of traffic on the Bengworden Rd, simply shifting the road safety risk onto property owners and stakeholders vested in the Bengworden, Meerlieu and Perry Bridge districts and their respective local government representatives.

We ask for evidence of where in other parts of Victoria and or other states that the installation of centre road barriers have been successful in reducing road accidents, not just fatalities.

The conclusion of the stakeholders who attended the meeting is that the centre road barrier project between Stratford and Bairnsdale should cease immediately and stay in cessation until all concerns are satisfactorily addressed.