Death road bar­ri­ers to be rushed for Easter

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - AVA BENNY- MOR­RI­SON BEN PIKE

THE deadly stretch of road that claimed the lives of actor Jes­sica Falkholt and her fam­ily in a hor­rific head-on crash will be di­vided by a wire bar­rier in an ur­gent up­grade to pre­vent fur­ther car­nage.

Con­struc­tion will be­gin on Wed­nes­day of a wire rope safety bar­rier, cou­pled with a rum­ble strip, af­ter the state gov­ern­ment pri­ori­tised the pro­ject.

The ini­tial plan was to wait un­til an au­dit of all state roads iden­ti­fied which most needed up­grades.

How­ever, work on the no­to­ri­ous stretch of the Princes High­way is be­ing rolled out months early in a bid to pre­vent fur­ther tragedy over the busy Easter long week­end.

The bar­rier will sep­a­rate traf­fic trav­el­ling at 100km/h on the sin­gle car­riage­way be­tween Ben­da­long Rd and Lun­cheon Creek Rd, a dis­tance of less than a kilo­me­tre.

Ms Falkholt, best known for her role in TV soap Home And Away, her par­ents Vi­vian and Lars, and sis­ter Annabelle died af­ter se­rial traf­fic of­fender Craig Whi­tall veered to the wrong side of the road at Mon­day­ong, near Sus­sex In­let on the south coast, on Box­ing Day as he drove home from a methadone clinic.

Mr and Mrs Falkholt died at the scene. Annabelle, 21, died a few days later, and Jes­sica, 29, died af­ter three weeks in a coma. Mr Whi­tall also died in the crash.

Roads Min­is­ter Melinda Pavey said: “Al­most eight in 10 fa­tal­i­ties on coun­try roads where the speed limit is 100km/h or higher in­volves the ve­hi­cle cross­ing the cen­tre line or run­ning off the road to the left.

“Many of these crashes can be avoided with sim­ple road in­fra­struc­ture up­grades.”

A rel­a­tive of the Falkholts, who asked not to be iden­ti­fied, said the fam­ily wel­comed the early ac­tion.

“We lost a whole branch of our fam­ily tree and clearly we do not want them to have died in vain,” the rel­a­tive said yes­ter­day. “It is fan­tas­tic that the gov­ern­ment has de­cided to put in some safe­guards for peo­ple who are us­ing that road.

“So many peo­ple have lost their lives on this fa­tal stretch so some­thing needed to be done.”

The state gov­ern­ment flagged the work in its road safety plan last month af­ter a dire Christ­mas hol­i­day pe­riod claimed 29 lives, tak­ing the 2017 road toll to 392.

Me­dian bar­ri­ers pre­vent up to 85 per cent of fa­tal and se­ri­ous in­jury crashes, ac­cord­ing to the Cen­tre for Road Safety.

Close friends and fam­ily of the Falkholts will gather in late March for a spe­cial screen­ing of the movie Har­mony, the last film Jes­sica starred in be­fore her death.

Home and Away star Jes­sica Falkholt. Lars, Vi­vian, Annabelle and (right) Jes­sica. The fiery south coast crash that killed the Falkholt fam­ily.

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