THE minutes of a meeting about the safety audit of the Port Douglas Rd-Captain Cook Highway intersection shows the Department of Main Roads thinks a roundabout is a good idea after all.
At a Road Safety Traffic and Transport Advisory Committee meeting on September 12, several Cairns Regional Council (CRC) officers and DMR discussed the progress of the audit.
In the minutes, DMR’s Michael Ringer advocated for a roundabout, advising the meeting that DMR will be putting in a submission to its Brisbane head office for a roundabout for the intersection “but this could take some time”.
Mr Ringer refused to discuss his recommendation with the Gazette this week, with DMR’s media liaison director Robert Hoge rehashing the line wheeled out by the department last week that “the audit concluded traffic signals or a roundabout wouldn’t be suitable in the short-term due to low traffic volumes”.
“Recommendations from the safety audit including changes to signage, line-marking and vegetation removal will occur in the next four weeks,” he said.
“But the audit did recommend we progress planning towards a long-term solution to cater for projected growth in traffic, which may include a potential roundabout or traffic lights.”
Mr Hoge said plans for a roundabout were not included as a recommendation in the safety audit so money could be spent elsewhere.
“The safety audit indicated new infrastructure wasn’t needed in the short-term therefore funding wouldn’t prioritised over other current projects in the region,” he said.
“A detailed process will soon start to identify possible future solutions and staged options that will be needed in the future to cater for this population growth - I don’t have specific dates.”
Port Douglas Fire Station’s auxillary captain Louie Leone has had to use the jaws of life at several vehicle accidents at the intersection and believes more substantial changes are needed.
“We attended many car crashes and are always looking at the cause of why and I agree with the human error factor,” he said.
“But not to do anything about it . . . maybe widen it a little bit more, have the left turn south bound into Port earlier and a merging lane, so no give way.
“I really can’t comment on the 13 crashes they claimed in the audit, but personally, it feels like a lot more.”
“It is possible the device had been dislodged during the cyclone which rendered the wire virtually invisible to the pilot.
“The helicopter was totally destroyed on impact and the pilot and three passengers were lucky to escape with their lives albeit they were all seriously injured with confirmed spinal injuries and all have undergone surgery since.”
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is still investigating the crash and will release its report in December.
Accident: investigators examine the crash scene in June