Member of Lions Club – State Parliament
Roads Minister Jaala Pulford has shown just how out of touch she is with East Gippsland roadworks, describing concerns with the safety barriers between Sale and Bairnsdale as being a ‘very strange campaign’.
In relation to two new sections having to be removed after failing a safety audit, the Minister told ABC Gippsland ‘There have been some minor tweaks as there were always going to be’.
But Gippsland East Nationals MP Tim Bull said he can assure the Minister he was not having a fit, instead just passing on legitimate concerns from local residents who have raised safety issues with him.
“These same community concerns have triggered safety audits that have failed two sections of barrier which will now have to be remedied at significant cost - I don’t think she should be labelling these concerns a ‘very strange campaign’ – I think she should be thanking our community members,” said Mr Bull.
“The ‘minor tweaks’ she refers to include sections of 100m of barrier being removed just months after installation because they have been deemed unsafe. I would not call the removal of these sections ‘minor tweaks’.
“The Minister also said ‘Tim Bull writes me letters asking for bits of barrier to be taken down all the time’. This is not correct,” said Mr Bull.
“Of recent months I have continually requested a shoulder of four to six metres - which is the VicRoads standard to allow safety around broken down vehicles – not the three metres we have been given that stops a tyre being changed safely or a truck from being able to pull over.
“I have also requested on behalf of residents that some intersections be investigated for safety around line of sight and it has proved to be for good reason, as they have failed the safety audits.
“My most recent letter to the Minister actually requested she consider installing roadside barriers on sections of the Great Alpine Road where there is a sheer drop off. I am not opposed to barriers being installed in the right locations, in line with VicRoads guidelines and after community consultation – none of which has occurred on this job.”
“If the Minister thinks there have only been ‘minor tweaks’, I would ask her if these situations fall into that category:
• A backflip on the announcement to install centre of the road barriers on the Paynesville Road after community pressure.
• An agreement to remove 25kms of side barrier on the Princes Highway eastbound, where it had been planned to be installed, after community pressure.
• Removal of five sections of barrier months after installation, due to it failing safety audits.
• A last minute decision to install eight pull over areas not in the original plans after community complaints.
• Massive road failure on large stretches of new road surface requiring all the work to be done again at enormous cost.
“And this does not take into account the existing safety issues presented by the 3m shoulder.
“At a recent road safety forum in Sale the Minister heard from the community about the barrier concerns and that they were not being listened to. To have heard this and then label the community’s concerns a ‘very strange campaign’ is, well, very strange itself.”