June 27, 2014

Magpie Speed Zones – They got it Wrong

Geoff Howard MP, State Member for Ballarat East, has called on the Minister for Roads to urgently review the recent speed limit changes made at the approach to Sebastopol on the Midland Highway near Magpie.

This follows concerns being raised with him by parents of students at Magpie Primary school who are already concerned about safety at the intersection of Docwra Street and Prince Street with Albert Street.

Mr Howard raised the matter in parliament this week following a well-attended community meeting at Magpie Primary School as well as a number of residents contacting him in regard to safety at the intersection.

Over 30 people attended the meeting held at Magpie Primary School and many described
crashes and many near misses which they had observed over recent years at the intersection.

The intersection is close to Magpie Primary School and a school crossing has been
established near this point.

VicRoads recently raised the speed limit associated with the intersection from 70
kilometres per hour to 80 kilometres per hour in line with government policy to
eliminate 70 kph speed zones.

Residents are concerned that this is an inappropriate change as cars regularly approach
this intersection from the south travelling too fast.

Residents believe it would have been much more appropriate, given the nature of this
intersection and its proximity to the school crossing, for the road to have attracted a speed limit of 60 kilometres per hour. 

“I therefore have asked the minister to review the speed limit change as a matter
of urgency, with a view of it being dropped to 60 kilometres per hour for traffic travelling on Albert Street (Midland Highway) in the vicinity of this intersection,” said Mr Howard.

A similar concern has been raised about the extention of the 80 kph zone into Buninyong for traffic approaching on the Midland Hwy from Sebastopol noting that for cars turning
from the Hwy into Winter Street Buninyong without the benefit of a turning lane drivers are nervous about the possibility of rear end crashes from cars travelling behind them in the extended 80 kph zone.

Again residents are telling me that the speed limit in this urban area should have been dropped to 60 kph not raised to 80 kph.

 “It may be that residents may think that some of the other speed limit changes made where the 70kph speed limits have been changed have gone the wrong way,” acknowledged Mr Howard.

“but these two appear to be cases where the authorities have got it wrong” he said.

Mr Howard said he was also pursuing a broader review of the Docwra Street
intersection.

“As well as being concerned about the speed limit change, Magpie residents and the
school community expressed the view that the intersection really needs some significant attention, perhaps by way of installing traffic lights or possibly a roundabout to ensure that it is safer.”

“Parents from the school and other residents in the area always feel it is a matter of
great risk when they progress from Docwra Street and attempt to either turn onto the Midland Highway or cross over to Prince Street. Having looked at the intersection, I can see the concern there,” Mr Howard said.

Some parents also shared experiences of children on the nearby school crossing also
being regularly threatened by cars failing to stop at the crossing in a safe manner.

Mr Howard said that all the feedback he had received, either at the meeting or via email
contact, had overwhelmingly put the view that the speed limit in the area should have been dropped to 60 km/hr.

“This would ensure traffic coming into Sebastopol from Buninyong or Napoleons would
be encouraged to slow down before reaching the Docwra street intersection and the Magpie School crossing,” said Mr Howard.

Magpie School parents and residents who live in Magpie said that they are always
nervous about turning out of or into Docwra Street as the constant traffic on Albert Street (Midland Hwy) often meant they had to make the turn hastily to avoid rear end collisions.

Turns from Prince Street or attempts to cross directly between Prince and Docwra
streets were also very hazardous.

“Do we have to have a death at the intersection before it is made safer?” asked some
parents.

Mr Howard said that the Minister had responded to his inquiry in parliament, saying that he would review the speed limit changes.

“I believe that a review should show that the change to 80 kph is wrong and that the speed limit needs to be changed to 60 km/hr and I hope the change will be made very soon.” Mr Howard concluded.