COMMENT by ALEX NELSON
How interesting that councillors are critical about the safety of the new pedestrian crossing near Heavitree Gap which cost $300,000 to build, funded by the Federal Black Spots program.
This development was justified on the basis of a long history of accidents, some of them fatal, in this vicinity.
What’s most remarkable, however, is that the Alice Springs Town Council in recent weeks has called for tenders to construct a roundabout at the intersection of Sturt Terrace and Undoolya Road, which is also to be funded at a cost of $300,000 from the Federal Black Spots program.
There are some startling differences that emerge when comparing the two projects.
First, there is no record of serious accidents at the Sturt Terrace – Undoolya Road intersection I’m aware of; however, a drunk driver did run into the fence corner of Lil’ Antz childcare centre in 2010, and this incident appears to be the sole reason for nominating this intersection as a “black spot” road hazard.
Second, there is much criticism of the lack of consultation before the construction of the pedestrian crossing near Heavitree Gap; however, the Alice town council has never consulted the public on the roundabout project despite Mayor Damien Ryan stating “the council would consult the community before work started” in June last year. I attacked this project in an article last year.
Aside from the lack of consultation, I also pointed out there had been no traffic flow study on Undoolya Road at the time. Lo and behold! – For a time after publication of my article, a traffic counter line was stretched across Undoolya Road. And what, pray tell, did that little exercise reveal in traffic flow numbers?
I also pointed out that roundabouts can generate significant dangers of their own accord, principally of drivers losing control at high speed and jumping the kerbside. I commented on two examples in the town centre, one being an impact on the barrier fence (still there) at the roundabout of Leichhardt and Gregory terraces (nearby the Civic Centre), the second an impact on a light pole with a CCTV camera (recently replaced) at the roundabout of Bath and Parsons streets adjacent to the Alice Springs Police Station.
I also quoted at length a story about vehicles losing control and smashing into a front yard at the major Larapinta Drive – Milner Road roundabout, published 16 years ago.
There was a similar accident at that same corner just three weeks ago, when a vehicle smashed into the guard rail, wiping a section of it out.
As I wrote last year: “There’s no reason to suppose the problem of speeding drivers losing control at this (and other) roundabouts won’t be repeated at the Undoolya Road – Sturt Terrace intersection, consequently the danger posed to Lil’ Antz childcare centre will be exacerbated if a roundabout is constructed at that corner. In turn this will necessitate further expense with the installation of guard rails on the Lil’ Antz corner to mitigate this increased danger.”
It’s ironic that, at the same time the Alice town council seeks to construct a roundabout adjacent to Lil’ Antz which will significantly worsen the danger for the children at that facility, we now have councillors expressing concern about the dangers to children at the new pedestrian crossing near Heavitree Gap! Just astonishing!
Even more startling is my recent chance discovery of Alice Springs Town Council advertisements in November 2004 calling for tenders to construct a roundabout at the Sturt Terrace – Undoolya Road intersection; this followed the opening of Lil’ Antz at that location in March that year.
This begs questions why the construction of a roundabout at that intersection didn’t proceed at the time, and what has changed to justify its construction now almost a decade later?
I cannot escape the conclusion that the Alice Springs Town Council is on the verge of mishandling its own black spots-funded project in town even as it criticizes the black spots-funded disaster unfolding near Heavitree Gap.
PHOTO: Repairs at Milner Road – Larapinta Drive roundabout after accident.