Monday, 27 April 2015

Report on the VicRoads meeting

First a quote from VicRoad's response to the meeting:
Daya and myself came away from the meeting reflecting on what a great meeting we just had with a thoughtful and understanding community group.
Now the details - well worth a read as there were some exciting new ideas


Attendance: Michael Redden, Don Culvenor, David Stratton, Helen Waters, Ken Smith, Bronwyn Smith
VicRoads : Jim Mensforth -  Team Leader Road Safety & Traffic Engineering
Daya Govender.Manager Planning

Apologies: Mayor - Christine Henderson                   
                 Ben  Grounds - Manager Infrastructure Mt Alexander Council - emailed
“I won’t be able to make it next Friday (and unfortunately neither can either of our relevant engineers). I’m sure with Jim there he’ll have a lot of useful information about road safety and the considerations VicRoads make when assessing the issues. I’m happy to provide input before or after the meeting on any specific Council questions – possibly after a good discussion with Jim there’ll be some specific questions for us?”

Main Topics:
Once again, despite small attendance, this Rocket Science Session provided a quality discussion with positive outcomes.
  1. Pedestrian safety on road bridge
  2. Pedestrian Crossing in Centre of Town
  3. Speed Limits

1. Pedestrian Safety on Road Bridge
  • Possible to change the centre strip on the road to narrow lanes to provide a bit more space for a pedestrian railing or barrier.
  • VicRoads to investigate potential railing. Risk factor is potential vehicle impact that could ensnare pedestrians to be balanced against safety for pedestrian deviations
  • Speed Alert Trailer could be brought to Newstead to warn traffic of required speed on bridge approach
  • Council is aware of Pedestrian Railing issue and is onside - support given at previous Rocket Science Session “Footbridge Over the Loddon” - August 21, 2014
2. Pedestrian Crossing in Centre of Town.
  • Arterial roads such as Pyrenees Highway is a VicRoads responsibility and is designated for B-doubles with regulations regarding acceptable pedestrian crossings. No zebra crossings permitted on Arterial roads. Pedestrian Operated signals are allowed - but costly
    • Parking restrictions apply either side of crossing - awkward in middle of town - trade-off angle parking to create space for pedestrian crossing in busiest part of town. A concrete  median strip and barriers act as traffic calming device and a refuge where people can wait to cross each lane of traffic rather than risk lengthy wait or dashing across major highway. Elderly with limited mobility or poor eyesight reluctant to cross from one side to the other near  Dig to General Store or Bus Stop to Butchers.
    • Funds short or restricted for pedestrian crossings - VicRoads chronically short of funds
  • Pedestrian Refuge - suggested as a lower cost option to assist elderly, children cross busy arterial road in safety. Still costly, requiring concrete median strip and safety lighting.
    • No parking ramifications and could be either side of Panmure St
    • Provides safe place for pedestrians after crossing one stream of traffic
    • Psychological impact on drivers speeds
  • VicRoads criteria explained. Councils in the region set priorities supported by a business case. In October VicRoads seeks Councils’ input, projects costed by VicRoads - competition for limited funds for what is considered to be a good project.
  • Business Case - set out benefits for local access to key parts of town - busy intersection - Council needs to justify need for a crossing in Newstead.
  • If Council has funding for median strip,  VicRoads will consider this proposal
  • Country roads &, bridges are a local govt responsibility.
  • VicRoads unaware that there is currently no school crossing in Newstead

3. Speed Zones
  • Variation in zones on approach to Newstead from  60km to 40km to 50km  over the bridge then  80 km before turning left onto Campbell Street to Creswick or Daylseford Road 60kms zones - confusing for drivers. Jim to look closely at these highway speed signs.
  • VicRoads allows 50kms zone for commercial precinct only. Will consider extending to Police Station, Post Office & RTC.
    • Jim (VicRoads) will look into the issue of speed signs as the CBD is larger than he realised.
  • School Zone 40kms - if gates are removed from Pyrenees St frontage (opposite RTC) then the 40kms school zone is no longer required and can be removed. Then 50km zone could be extended as far east as the RTC.
  • Don Culvenor to approach School Council requesting removal of unused school gates front Pyrenees Highway opposite RTC. These gates are currently unused and wired shut, but need to be totally removed if 50km zone is to be extended.
  • Newstead is a junction for highways carrying increased traffic, especially trucks, to major towns - Ballarat, Maryborough, Bendigo Daylesford, as well as Maldon & Castlemaine.

General Comments:
  • Concern re vehicles, big trucks, caravans double parked or parked illegally in centre of town, on corners and outside supermarket and Crown Hotel. Dangerous for pedestrians and obscures oncoming traffic. “No Stopping” signs suggested as a solution and possible revenue raiser.
  • Post Office parking area - overcrowded and dangerous, busy area with more vehicles parked than allocated spaces allow.
  • Reduction of speed to 50kms on approach to Post Office might slow speeding traffic. No answer to parking congestion, an ongoing issue.
  • Newstead hosts events attracting large crowds during the year - Newstead Live, Chopped.On the night of this Rocket Science Session, over 1,000 British Motor Bikes were in town for the annual gathering at the Race Course - biggest such event in Victoria. Visitors to town, whilst welcome, generate extra traffic and greater risk for road safety on highways in and out of town.

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