Vicroads has circulated a letter to those interested in its proposed Pyrenees Highway works. Readers will remember that a number of trees were slated for removal in this project. FOBIF has accepted that some trees need removal, but not as many as proposed. We have argued that a better safety result could be achieved if–among other measures– the speed limit was reduced between Newstead and Green Gully.
Vicroads response to this is clear from its letter:
‘A reduction of the speed zone would not lead to a decrease in the amount of barrier treatments used in this instance. The impact of an errant vehicle with a roadside hazard (tree, power pole) at 80 kmh can still lead to a serious injury or fatality.
‘The Installation of safety barriers provides the safest option.’
The implication of the letter is clear: that Vicroads will essentially proceed with its original proposal. It seems, from the above paragraph, that the purpose of the project is not so much to reduce the number of ‘run off road’ accidents as to soften the effect of the ones that do happen. A more effective approach would aim at both—and if it resulted in less environmental damage, all the better.
Vicroads seems to have set aside the reasoning behind TAC ‘wipe off five’ campaigns: ‘Eight Wipe off 5 campaigns have been released with all emphasising even a small reduction in speed can make the difference between life and death.’ This widely accepted argument is particularly strong on a winding, narrow stretch of Highway like the one between Green Gully and Newstead.
Vicroads has supported some offset planting, and other ‘palliative’ measures. Nevertheless, we believe its position here is consistent with its activities on the Western Highway, and the Calder at Ravenswood: a narrow understanding of efficiency and safety sweeps aside other values.