Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, has welcomed a $2.7m in road safety works for the stretch of the Princes Highway from Forge Creek Road to Paynesville Road.
“This comes on the back of the Premier recently announcing in Bairnsdale there will be in excess of $7.6m to upgrade two stretches of the Princes Highway between Orbost and Cann River and Bairnsdale and Stratford,” said Mr Bull.
“These safety improvements are part of a wider $36 million program to reduce the crash rate along the Princes Highway from Longwarry through to the New South Wales border. This is funded by the TAC under the Safer Roads Infrastructure Program.
“In the five year period from January 2006 to December 2010 there were 31 reported casualty crashes on the highway from Forge Creek Road to Paynesville Road, of which 16 resulted in serious injuries and two in fatalities. Nine of these crashes involved pedestrians.”
Transport Minister, Terry Mulder said the stretch of highway through the Bairnsdale town centre has a unique mix of local and highway traffic, combined with high pedestrian activity through the busy shopping precinct.
“Treatments include a range of road safety initiatives which aim to create an environment through the town centre that suits the current 50km/h speed limit, while also improving pedestrian safety.”
This project includes what are called gateway treatments on the highway approaches to the Bairnsdale town centre.
Highly visible electronic speed limit signs and coloured pavement surfacing at both entrances to the town will give motorists further visual cues that they are entering a busy urban environment, and need to slow down.
In addition to the gateway treatments, a painted buffer zone will be created between the parking bays and traffic lanes. This will narrow the traffic lane widths to create an environment where drivers feel they can’t speed through.
Improvements at the pedestrian operated signals and at a number of intersections along the highway through Bairnsdale will also be made, to reduce the crossing distance for pedestrians.
“By installing concrete islands that extend the footpath out towards the traffic lanes, pedestrians will be easier to see and the crossing distance will also be reduced, making it safer to cross the highway,” Mr Mulder said.
“Improvements will also be made to the electronic coordination of traffic lights and pedestrian crossing signals to improve traffic flow through the town and reduce the risk of rear-end crashes.“
All traffic lights will have their regular globes replaced with brighter LEDs and street lighting upgrades will take place as part of the project.
It is anticipated that this project will start early 2012 and weather permitting, will be competed by the end of the year.
VicRoads has worked closely with East Gippsland Shire Council to develop these improvements and is currently undertaking a traffic study to assess the closure of the narrow mid block median openings between Pyke Street and Wood Street.