No need for roundabout
AS I live north of Port Douglas, I drive through the troublesome Cook Highway/ Port Douglas intersection often on my way south, and feel compelled to put in my two cents worth on this issue.
Several friends and I have all experienced northbound drivers who are turning into Port Douglas at that intersection turning dangerously across in front of us as we proceed south, in one instance missing a potentially serious collision by mere centimetres.
However, I do not believe that the collisions and near-misses at that intersection warrant a roundabout, or, worse, a set of petrol-guzzling traffic lights.
The issue here is one of southbound traffic being unsighted by the northbound turning traffic, and/or of the northbound turning driver misinterpreting the signals he is receiving about southbound traffic.
These two issues arise, in the first instance by the very poor placement of a "Keep Left" sign on the centre median on the north side of the intersection, which effectively blocks the view of oncoming southbound traffic to the northbound turning driver, and in the second instance by the poorly thought-out construction of the southbound traffic left turn lane into Port Douglas which siphons southbound left-turning traffic off the highway proper and requires them to give way to northbound turning traffic.
This sends a message to the northbound turning driver that all southbound traffic has moved off the highway into the left turn lane and/or that all southbound traffic must give way to northbound turning traffic.
I would recommend three changes at this intersection:
Remove the “Keep Left” sign from the centre median on the northbound side of the intersection to allow an unimpeded view of traffic approaching from the north to traffic turning into Port Douglas.
Place a “Give Way to Oncoming Traffic” sign at or near the entrance to the right turn lane, so that northbound traffic turning into Port Douglas gets a clear message about traffic priorities as they commence their right turn procedure.
And put the southbound traffic turning into Port Douglas back on the highway, in a turn lane clearly part of and connected to the highway, not separated from the highway, and reinstate the normal obligation of northbound turning traffic to give way to that south-bound turning traffic.
This puts all southbound traffic back on the highway where it is both more visible to the northbound turning driver and psychologically part of the southbound traffic stream, and it reinforces the obligation of turning traffic to give way to all approaching traffic whether it is turning or not.
These changes could be made both quickly and inexpensively, and could contribute to a safer intersection very soon.
I am no roads engineer, but practicality and commonsense often trump theory, and the deficiencies of this intersection are just one more example of the bureaucratic stupidity that we see too often in Australian road design and Australian