High­way cross­ing still a dan­ger

Southern Riverina news - - NEWS -

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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