SLASHED: Anger over looming cut to Riverland highway speed limit
LOCALS have criticised the State Government’s decision to cut the speed limit from 110km/h to 100km/h along a Riverland highway in a bid to reduce casualty crashes.
The South Australian Government announced it would be lowering speed limits on a number of regional roads, including the Brown’s Well Highway between Loxton and Pinnaroo, by the end of the year.
The decision was made after the Transport Department identified eight regional roads as having bad crash histories, with 18 casualty crashes occurring on the Brown’s Well Highway between 2011 and 2015.
In a letter to Member for Chaffey Tim Whetstone, the SA Minister for Road Safety Peter Malinauskas said a small reduction in travel speed would result in “significantly” fewer casualty crashes.
However, the move has been criticised by a number of stakeholders who have claimed the State Government was dropping the speed limit rather than maintaining regional roads.
Paruna resident Ian McNeil, who travels along the road daily, said the speed reduction was a cover for lack of maintenance.
“There’s been no money spent on that road from Loxton to Bordertown,” he said.
“There’s just been very minor patchwork, and there’s been an increase in traffic on those roads.” Mr Whetstone said the Brown’s Well Highway was in desperate need of road widening, shoulder sealing and resurfacing in some areas.
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ROAD RAGE: Riverland highway speed limit cut Continued from page 1 A Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) 2014 Road Development Plan obtained by Mr Whetstone through the Freedom of Information Act revealed that the Brown’s Well Highway failed to meet the required standard.
The document stated that the highway between Loxton and Pinnaroo needed shoulder sealing and road widening.
Mr Whetstone said the road had endured increased pressure from heavy-vehicle traffic since rail ceased servicing the Mallee.
“Rather than address important maintenance issues on this route as outlined in their own road development plan, the Weatherill Government has dropped the speed limit,” he said.
“Dropping speed limits will increase travel time which will be even more dangerous for road users with the risk of fatigue and on roads that need maintenance.
“It is vital that we do everything possible to make our roads safe, and maintaining and improving the condition of our road network should be paramount.” District Council of Loxton Waikerie Mayor Leon Stasinowsky said the State Government’s decision would be aired at council this Friday.
“Based on past decisions, the council’s strong preference would be that instead of reducing the speed limit, the State Government maintain their roads to a fit and proper level for 110km/h,” he said.
“(The road needs to be maintained) given it’s a major transport route for our district as well as one of the ways people can come into the Riverland from the southern areas of the state.
The Local Government Association (LGA), which has advocated for increased roadworks funding, condemned the decision, with president mayor Lorraine Rosenberg saying the move was the quickest and cheapest way to address the issue.
“But, it’s not the best longterm outcome,” she said. “If these roads are no longer fit for purpose then we believe they should be upgraded to a suitable standard.” Mrs Rosenberg said the LGA supported a holistic approach to road safety and speed limits were only one part of the issue.
Civil Contractors Federation chief executive Phillip Sutherland called on all forms of Government to invest in regional roads.
“Our regional roads are the economic life-blood of our state, (and) they are critical to the movement of freight and must be up to the task,” he said.
Mr Sutherland said the reduction of speed limits to compensate for unsafe roads was an admission that all levels of government had failed to keep pace with changing road use and social and economic circumstances.
“People living in regional South Australia deserve much better roads than they have,” he said.
In response to the criticism, a DPTI spokesperson said the department had undertaken a review into rural speed limits, which included extensive consultation with local councils and stakeholders.”We have seen an alarming spike in road deaths in recent months, and lowering speed limits is just one of a number of strategies aimed at reducing deaths and injuries on our roads,” the spokesperson said.
“The State Government remains committed to improving rural road infrastructure and $188 million will be spent to improve and maintain regional roads in 2017/18.” New speed signs will be erected along the Brown’s Well Highway by the end of the year.