Member of Lions Club – State Parliament
Regional Roads Victoria, a division of VicRoads, is not adhering to its own best practice guidelines for the Princes Highway safety barrier project it is undertaking between Bairnsdale and Stratford.
That is the view of Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, who said this revelation is just the latest concern to arise on this project.
“Page two of VicRoads own design note dated March 2019 says “Every effort should be made to achieve the desirable offset of 4.0 – 6.0 metres as it allows broken down vehicles to pull over clear of traffic lanes and provides space for maintenance vehicles.”
“However, the offset (distance between edge of road and side barrier) on this stretch of highway is only three metres and already we have seen cases where buses can’t pull over as here is not enough room to open their doors to let passengers/students alight and truck drivers cannot pull over to change a tyre without intruding into the traffic lane.
“On top of this, I have had a local road transport operator say he has identified over 20 locations where even the minimum three metres is not being met.”
Mr Bull said the VicRoads document clearly stated later (page 6) that the reason for this desired 4.0 – 6.0 m offset was “so occupants are able to open the doors of a passenger vehicle clear of the traffic lane”.
“I would have thought that on the Princes Highway which experiences very high traffic volumes, especially around holiday times, there would have been an effort to adhere to what VicRoads says is its own preferred standards, especially when it says ‘every effort’ should be made to achieve them,” Mr Bull said.
“Clearly not every effort has been made here. There are significant stretches where the other side of the barrier is flat open land and extending this offset would have been relatively easy had the funding been provided.
Mr Bull said the litany of disasters on the Princes Highway works from Sale to Bairnsdale included areas of new road having to be repaired on multiple occasions, uneven road surfaces after works have been completed, lack of table drains in locations where they should be installed and poor or non-existent line marking that has led to driver confusion.
“The other matter that is constantly raised with me is that while we are removing the ability to overtake with these centre of the road barriers, only one more overtaking lane in each direction is being installed.
“It is clear that when we have a vehicle travelling at 60-70 km/h, whether that be a tractor with farm machinery, a caravan or other, it is going to lead to great driver frustration. Many motorists have already told me they will now permanently be using Bengworden Road to avoid this situation.
“The problem with this of course is local police have already said Bengworden Road is a higher risk road due to its inferior infrastructure and being narrower,” Mr Bull said.
Caption: Gippsland East Nationals MP Tim Bull, says the current roadside barrier works on the Princes highway between Stratford and Bairnsdale, do not provide the preferred shoulder offset of 4-6 metres as outlined in VicRoads own design note.