Traf­fic woe

Road up­grades cause prob­lems

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Alicia Per­era

Sev­eral roads in the Kar­ratha city cen­tre re­cently up­graded by Gov­ern­ment spend­ing have come un­der review for caus­ing traf­fic prob­lems, as the City of Kar­ratha coun­cil last month looked into chang­ing the de­sign of two key in­ter­sec­tions.

At their Fe­bru­ary meet­ing, coun­cil­lors voted in favour of seek­ing Main Roads ap­proval to in­stal a round­about at the prob­lem­atic in­ter­sec­tion of Sharpe Av­enue and Wel­come Road.

They noted the cur­rent give way de­sign, which gives driv­ers on Sharpe Av­enue pri­or­ity, had of­ten caused long de­lays and frus­tra­tion for driv­ers and there had been three re­ported ac­ci­dents at the in­ter­sec­tion.

The es­ti­mated cost of $476,000 for the round­about’s de­sign and con­struc­tion would come out of the Red Earth Arts Precinct project bud­get.

Coun­cil­lors also re­quested that City of­fi­cers and traf­fic en­gi­neers work on a re­design of a more re­cent road up­grade, the new Kar­ratha Ter­race and Hed­land Place in­ter­sec­tion, to en­able a right­hand turn on to the ter­race from the Hed­land Place busi­ness strip.

Traf­fic en­gi­neers ARUP de­signed the cur­rent left-in, left-out for­mat based on safety con­cerns, but sev­eral coun­cil­lors said it was con­fus­ing lo­cal driv­ers who were used to the right-hand turn, prompt­ing some to make it any­way. Cr Geoff Har­ris said if the in­ter­sec­tion re­mained as it was, it would change peo­ple’s habits so they are “just not go­ing to go there”, hurt­ing small busi­nesses on Hed­land Place.

Mayor Pe­ter Long said coun­cil­lors were seek­ing new road de­signs that were both safe and al­lowed for a free flow of traf­fic around the city cen­tre.

“Orig­i­nally traf­fic sig­nals were planned for these in­ter­sec­tions, how­ever, that is no longer con­sid­ered the pre­ferred treat­ment by Main Roads WA,” he said.

“We know the treat­ments that are cur­rently in place have been caus­ing some is­sues with com­muters and so we are very ea­ger to in­ves­ti­gate al­ter­na­tive de­signs that im­prove traf­fic flow but also meet the rel­e­vant safety stan­dards.”

Mr Long said the coun­cil an­tic­i­pated city roads would only be­come busier in the next few years as sev­eral key projects were com­pleted and lo­cal roads had to ac­com­mo­date that.

“As new projects like the Red Earth Arts Precinct, these in­ter­sec­tions will be­come in­creas­ingly busy so it is im­por­tant that we have treat­ments that safely ac­com­mo­date peak-pe­riod traf­fic flow,” he said.

“We will con­tinue to work with Main Roads WA and traf­fic en­gi­neers to in­ves­ti­gate safe and prac­ti­cal de­signs for both in­ter­sec­tions.”

Mean­while, the ac­ci­dent rate at the Dampier High­way and De Witt Road in­ter­sec­tion since traf­fic lights were in­stalled was high­lighted again af­ter a car and a four­wheel-drive crashed there last week. It takes the to­tal num­ber of crashes since the lights were in­stalled in Au­gust, 2015 to 14, com­pared with 28 across the pre­vi­ous five years.

The in­ter­sec­tion was up­graded from 2014 with $600,000 in State Gov­ern­ment Black Spot up­grade fund­ing, along with $300,000 from the City of Kar­ratha.

Pic­ture: Tom Zaun­mayr

Last week’s col­li­sion be­tween a four-wheel-drive ute and a hatch­back at the traf­fic lights at the en­trance to Kar­ratha.

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