Bus route 483 deviation: Merriwa retirees renew calls for traffic signals

 Derek Farrell (residents' committee chairman), resident Laurie Hassett, estate manger Nick Walker and Pat Hassett (residents' committee secretary.
Derek Farrell (residents' committee chairman), resident Laurie Hassett, estate manger Nick Walker and Pat Hassett (residents' committee secretary.

Opinion: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly about Mitchell Freeeway extension

TRANSPERTH is deviating a bus route and retirees in Merriwa are renewing calls for traffic signals as they prepare for increased traffic on Hester Avenue.

RAAFA Cambrai residents say the opening of the Mitchell Freeway extension will limit their ability to turn right out of their Hester Avenue estate, or Baltimore Parade if using the rear exit.

Transperth deviated the bus route 483 from July 30 to avoid right turns on Hester Avenue from Baltimore Parade, with new route in place indefinitely.

“The change is based on safety considerations – the safety of our staff and passengers is of utmost importance,” Public Transport Authority spokesman David Hynes said.

“When the Hester Avenue freeway access opens, the volume of traffic flowing along Hester Avenue will increase significantly.

“We commissioned an independent road safety audit, which indicated that Route 483 buses will be not be able to turn safely on to Baltimore Parade from Hester Avenue after these changes occur.

“This is due to the lack of a roundabout or signals at the Baltimore Parade/Hester Avenue intersection, which would provide a sufficient break in traffic for buses to cross the road.

“The PTA has committed funding to install a roundabout or traffic signals at the intersection.

“Main Roads WA are currently in negotiation with the City of Wanneroo regarding their installation.”

Mr Hynes said the PTA had reduced the number of stops serviced by route 483 at the southern end of Baltimore Parade and the change would affect about 130 passengers a day.

“The PTA has installed temporary bus stops on Greyhound Drive, Palermo Court and Renshaw Boulevard to reduce the impact of the deviation on passengers,” he said.

Cambrai residents’ committee secretary Pat Hassett was a member of the community and construction reference groups and said the Hester Avenue access issue was left as a “wait and see”.

“It was Transperth in the finish that said if they did not get traffic lights, the bus service would cease (going along Baltimore),” she said.

“We have lobbied all along to have lights there.

“The senior citizens in the village are playing kamikaze to go right out here.

“The safety of the residents is paramount – we want to push forward the traffic lights at Baltimore as quickly as possible.”

The City of Wanneroo flagged a proposal to use up to $2.4 million offered by Main Roads for a roundabout at the Baltimore Parade junction for signals at the July council briefing session, but the report was withdrawn.

Estate manager Nick Walker said he was concerned for the safety of the 420 residents, 80 aged care residents and 100 staff members, as well as visiting family and friends.

“We are extremely concerned for the safety of residents turning out,” Mr Walker said.

“With the increased traffic with the freeway opening, the amount of cars coming down Hester, it’s going to be very difficult to turn right.

“We want a solution as quickly as possible.”

Main Roads media manager Dean Roberts said analysis of roundabouts versus signal control at the junction showed a roundabout had better safety and efficiency outcomes.

“Given the location of the intersection, at the bottom of a hill, a roundabout is considered to be a far safer intersection solution,” he said

“Predicted traffic flow following the opening of the freeway to Hester Avenue will also be better served by a roundabout.”

Mr Roberts said in the five years to December 31, 2016, six of the 13 crashes at the junction were “right angle in nature” and roundabouts could eliminate those and reduce severity of all crashes.

“Main Roads’ role is to advise the City of the best treatments for the intersection,” he said.

“Recently, Main Roads formally recommended a roundabout option to council, for the reasons outlined above. However, no formal response has been received.

“We anticipate that construction costs for the roundabout would be in the vicinity of $2 million. However, more detailed design and planning would need to occur.

“Construction timeframes for a roundabout would be longer than installing traffic signals. However, we consider that the longer term safety and efficiency benefits outweigh the short-term benefits of construction timeframes particularly for when the Mitchell Freeway is extended farther north.

“The wider community will be informed of the progress of this project including anticipated project timing once Main Roads and Council come to an agreement.

“Main Roads understands that the City of Wanneroo meeting to discuss the treatment for this intersection will assist an early resolution to the matter.

“Main Roads will be monitoring traffic impacts and movements as a result of the Mitchell Freeway extension opening to traffic.”

Committee president Derek Farrell said the extra lanes on the Connolly Drive roundabout were already making it challenging for residents trying to cross lanes to turn into the estate.

Mr Farrell dismissed the idea that retirees would not need to get in or out of the estate during peak periods, saying if they needed to see specialists, appointments were often at those times.

“We don’t want to wait and see if someone gets killed,” he said.

“Even if they start to do them now, it will take quite a few months to do the roadwork.

“A roundabout won’t help us because there will still be a constant stream of traffic coming down.”

Transperth issued an alert about the diversion in late July, telling commuters that four Baltimore Parade bus stops (18181, 18182, 18172 and 18173) would remain in use but only be serviced by route 483 at selected times.

“As a result of changed road conditions at the intersection of Baltimore Parade and Hester Avenue in Merriwa, Route 483 will deviate from the above date until further notice,” the alert said.

Other stops on Baltimore Parade (18183 and 18147) and Hester Avenue (18154 and 18171) would not be used at all during the disruption.

It said the route 483 service would use temporary bus stops on Greyhound Drive, Renshaw Boulevard and Palermo Court for the duration of the disruption.

Mrs Hassett said diverting the bus route also had an impact on residents, with the nearest bus stop near Clarkson Community High School on Connolly Drive.

“It’s a walk for older people that may have a pusher or walker,” she said.

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