Engineers rule?


The intersection looking east,  with the child care centre on the left.  


“This council shouldn’t in any way, shape or form, question an engineer, we should take the advice as provided.”
So said Councillor Chansey Paech on the issue of the proposed roundabout at the intersection of Undoolya Road and Sturt Terrace.
He also expressed his belief that “the majority” of people in “that street” – Sturt Terrace? – support the proposal, despite no clear evidence before him. Of the four responses the council’s letter drop on the issue, three opposed the proposal (see previous report).
Cr Paech was picking up on the cues from council’s Director of Technical Services Greg Buxton and CEO Rex Mooney.
They both stressed in the discussion at last night’s meeting the sequence of events leading to the roundabout proposal: approval by the DCA of a child care centre located on the north-eastern corner of the intersection despite the council’s opposition; the safety issues arising; the solution proposed by the traffic management engineers council then called in; the successful second round application for $300,000 worth of Black Spot funding from the Commonwealth.
“We sought that funding at the direction of this chamber,” said Mr Buxton.
“We’ve done as much as we can to get the proposal on the table before you,” said Mr Mooney.
Meanwhile, council has gone a step further, proposing to adopt a 40kmh speed limit across the Wills Terrace causeway, which feeds traffic from the CBD into Eastside, once the roundabout is built.
Would the speed restriction and the erection of crash barriers not take care of the child care centre safety issue, Cr Eli Melky wanted to know. This was left hanging.
Mayor Damien Ryan, who at the committee meeting had queried the community’s support for the roundabout, appeared to have resolved this concern in his own mind. He did however raise the issue of pedestrians crossing the intersection. Roundabouts are designed to keep vehicular traffic flowing which can be a problem for pedestrians. A lot of people living in Eastside do walk into and back from town, he pointed out. He wanted to ensure that there would be a crossing giving them right of way before council signs off on the project.
Mr Buxton said he would review the proposal, examining the options of a “wombat” crossing (like the one on Gregory Terrace between Coles and Kmart) and traffic islands.
Cr Jade Kudrenko also wanted to see cyclists’ needs taken into account.
COMMENT: If you ask an engineer to examine a proposal, he is likely to come up with an engineered solution. If an urban planner had been asked, a quite different solution may have been proposed.
Traffic management engineers are being called upon to develop a report for the CBD. This is something that emerged from confidential consideration for the first time in last night’s meeting and no discussion of the issues was heard. Crs Kundrenko and Paech drew attention to the absence of the relevant reports in the papers. They will be supplied at next month’s committee meeting. An issue to keep an eye on.

Below: Children playing at the child care centre. Their safety is at issue.  


  1. What I found most interesting in this debate last night was the assertion that bollards would not protect the child care centre from erratic traffic.
    How can that be? Surely a heavy-duty crash bollard would keep any amount of traffic from the children playing within the fence. After all, something similar is used to protect stores from ram raiders and our embassies from suicide car-bombers.
    But, no. The engineers said not, so not it is.
    And now what? It seems we are to get a roundabout to direct traffic during the half-hour or so when the intersection gets busy in the morning, a speed limit on the causeway which will simply not be observed without a permanent speed camera, one or two wombats to help pedestrians (and bicycles?), and have I missed anything?
    Oh yes. The roundabout will help traffic turn around when cars find the causeway closed due to flooding.
    But couldn’t that turnaround be effected at the Lindsay St. intersection with a simple sign directing traffic and only unveiled during times of Todd flooding?
    But, no. The engineers said not, so not it is.
    Will this Council admit they got this one wrong? Will they even countenance the possibility?
    I don’t think so. I think we will get a roundabout that at least some engineers want, engineers that may or may not live on the Old Eastside.
    Meanwhile, has anyone tested the traffic at the Larapinta and Lovegrove intersection, or at the Larapinta and Bradshaw intersection? I wonder what the engineers would make of those two beauties.

  2. I wonder what the local political aspirants have to say on this issue?
    By the way, what do these political aspirants or the Alice Springs Town Council have to say about any upgrading of the Stuart Highway? With a potential increase in traffic to the new Kilgariff subdivision and through traffic to the booming Top End, will the Stuart Highway be widened to four lanes from the Adelaide turn-off to the MVR?

  3. Hi Bob, I have been asking this same question for over three years now. We have only one single lane road to the airport and with Kilgarff opening up this will cause even more havoc, especially getting to the airport.
    The bright sparks have gone and planted trees all along this stretch of road when in fact they should be widening this road corridor as you have pointed out to two lanes each way.
    It is another example of how bad planning is in Alice Springs.

  4. Having worked in the construction Industry for a considerable time I have learned that you always question the engineers because the theory rarely concurs with the practical.
    That is why I question that particular engineering report. However, the outcome is what matters, and the bollards are still “in”, and certainly will, in my mind at least, add some additional safety for the child care centre which after all was the central reason for the earlier discussion and subsequent creation of the roundabout project.

  5. I am assuming that the proposed roundabout is to stop the potential of a vehicle crashing into the childcare fence. Recently I noticed a large 4WD vehicle stuck through the fence on the south east side of the roundabout on the Larapinta Drive – Milner Road intersection. The only property there not protected with a large ARMCO barrier. Why did the roundabout not protect this property from the vehicle? The council seems to be acting on flawed advice if it asserts that a roundabout will prevent such an accident. Additionally, the imposition of a reduced speed limit across the causeway in question is not necessary as the surface is so rough that it is impossible to achieve more that 40 kph anyway.

  6. It is a relief to read that at least Cr Brown, and Cr Booth from a comment he made during the debate, will question engineers’ reports.
    I hope they all do, or will in the future. That’s why we elected them.
    Just because an expert, in this case an engineer, has been asked to submit a report and has been paid for his work, and even when that report comes with executive approval, this still does not mean it must be accepted.
    When considering the infallibility of engineers, we need look no further than the culverts under the Taffy Pick crossing. No doubt an engineer signed off on that idea at some point, and look what it got us.
    About the Stuart Highway – isn’t that something for Darwin? Perhaps questions could be asked at the coming public forums prior to voting on the 25th.

  7. “This council shouldn’t in any way, shape or form, question an engineer, we should take the advice as provided.” NO, NO, NO, WRONG!!!
    Sorry, Chansey Paech. You are elected to be on the lookout for unreasonable, unworkable, expensive or idiotic ideas put to council, you will find plenty of them over time.
    Question and if not happy question again the so called engineers, including anyone producing work or working for council.
    Maybe you have not been around over the last 45 years to see some of the major c#$@ups, Territory wide, costing thousands to fix.
    Usually us common plebs know nothing, are treated like mushrooms and are expected to adopt the stance of kids of old, be seen but not heard!
    (Just pay more taxes or rates to fix the problems the “educated” design and build.)


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