Work has begun on the installation of concrete safety barriers on the highway’s median in Warrimoo amid renewed opposition by local residents and councillors to the chosen material.
Work was suspended on the $1.2 million federally funded ‘blackspot program’ project — covering 1.2km from just south of Torwood Street to Rickard Road — in April 2012 due to local concerns about visual impact.
But in January Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) confirmed in a letter to Warrimoo residents and business owners that a public consultation process had concluded the community “generally supports the proposal on the grounds of improved road safety” and the project would commence with slight amendments.
RMS confirmed the key change involved the replanting of lomandra (also known as basket grass) “on the southern side of the median, as agreed by Blue Mountains City Council, to compensate for the loss of vegetation and soften the look of the barrier”.
Work is mainly to be done at night and is estimated to be completed, weather permitting, by the end of March.
On January 25 a group of Warrimoo residents distributed their own letter within the township expressing opposition to the RMS’ decision.
And as late as February 7 a letter by Blue Mountains mayor Mark Greenhill explaining council’s opposition was distributed to Warrimoo letterboxes — a move prompted by a motion by Clr Anton Von Schulenburg backed by 10 votes to two at a council meeting.
The letter revealed council’s view that solid concrete barriers “would detract” from the character of Warrimoo, that with “thoughtful design and appropriate funding” the RMS can maintain amenity and appropriate safety standards and “council is actively pursuing the matter with the RMS.”
A Warrimoo resident, Clr Greenhill said at the meeting “name any other project in the Blue Mountains of the RMS and they always go for the cheapest option.
“This isn’t Parramatta Road.
“There is a landscaped model there already [with the RMS and featuring steel cabling] that is just as safe.”
Clrs Brendan Christie and Daniel Myles voted against the motion.
Clr Christie said “this is a safety issue, so I’m in favour of putting in the [concrete] barriers”.