Highway crossing still a danger

July 12, 2017

An investigation into Finley’s central business district speed zone will be conducted as part of a local safety review.

Changing the speed zone on the Newell Hwy (Murray St) in the CBD has been raised as a potential solution to safety concerns with the main road’s pedestrian crossing.

All options were discussed at a meeting in Berrigan last week, prompted by Finley Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture.

Chamber representatives Sid Dudley and John Lacy, who were also speaking on behalf of the Local Health Advisory Committee, met with representatives from Roads and Maritime Services, Deniliquin Local Area Command police and Berrigan Shire Council.

The meeting was prompted by an incident at the crossing in January this year, where an elderly Finley woman was struck by a car while negotiating the crossing on a mobility scooter.

Mr Dudley said the Newell Hwy pedestrian crossing had been a particular concern for the community for more than a decade.

He said while minor improvements have made some difference the crossing was still a danger and must be addressed.

‘‘I think my first effort to get something done about this crossing was about 15 years ago,’’ Mr Dudley said.

‘‘Since then there have been blisters and a median strip installed, but 15 years ago there were no B-doubles and other trucks using Murray Street.

‘‘Anecdotally, the businesses located on either side of the street at the crossing are telling us not a day goes by where there isn’t a near miss on that crossing.’’

Mr Dudley said one of the biggest concerns was the community’s young people, who he says do not always check for traffic before entering the crossing.

‘‘Many of the kids coming from school on their scooters and bikes just plough straight through the crossing.

‘‘We had suggested putting barricades up to stop that from happening, but then there’s the issue that our elderly on their gophers cannot negotiate those barriers.

‘‘The main driver for getting a change was the kids’ safety, but January’s incident also highlighted it’s required to look after our elderly.’’

Mr Dudley said ideas like raising the crossing to create a speed hump, installing flashing lights and implementing a speed limit reduction at the approaches to the crossing were all discussed at the meeting.

He said while the elevated crossing seemed to be the most suitable, there were concerns about the impact on evening heavy vehicle traffic.

Mr Dudley said the RMS suggested the amount of foot and road traffic in the area may not be enough for Finley to be eligible for a flashing lights investment, and he said police raised some concerns about policing a speed reduction in the area.

‘‘There seems to be no perfect solution, which is probably why it’s been left like this for so long.

‘‘The Roads and Maritime Services has said it will go away and look at the options; how long it will take to get an answer, we don’t know.’’

Berrigan Shire Council director technical services Fred Exton has confirmed that RMS’s considerations will include a speed zone review of Murray St and the Finely CBD as a whole.

Mr Dudley said in the meantime ways of improving road safety education for children will also be further investigated.

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