Two local election candidates have joined forces to pressure the roads body to re-start safety work on the Great Western Highway.
Deputy Mayor Mark Greenhill and independent Ward 4 candidate Bruce Roberts are calling for Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) to re-think its position on installing concrete safety barriers on the highway between Blaxland and Warrimoo, saying they are out of character with the area.
Work to install barriers has stopped, prompting Clr Greenhill to call for the “best and safest” designs for the area rather than the “cheapest”.
“An urgency motion from council has called for the RMS to design much needed safety barriers around the heritage nature of the Blue Mountains,” Clr Greenhill said. “This is consistent with prior understandings between council and the RMS.
“Wide gardens and barriers within them work in the 110 km zones of the M4. Clearly they are worth looking at for the 80km zones we are talking about.
“Is the RMS only looking at the cheap option? They are proposing pulling out all landscaped gardens on that stretch of the highway and replacing them with concrete barriers. Isn’t a mix of methods worth considering?
“Rather than fix the problem the RMS has just ceased all work. Ceased making safety improvements. More important than anything is the need for safety.
“The RMS needs to give us the safest option while trying to recognise best practice heritage design. Overall, I want the safest outcome and the work to be done now.
“The RMS needs to recommence this work immediately and look at the best and safest designs not the cheapest.
“But work needs to get underway as soon as possible. What if there is an accident while they dither? This is particularly worrying given increased truck movements through the mountains. More important than anything is saving lives.
“My position is not quite the same as Bruce's in that, while I prefer barriers that are consistent with best urban design principles, I would support concrete if they can be shown to be the safest option.
“Surely this could be done by way of response to council's urgency motion very quickly. Right now it really looks as though the RMS has put a cheap outcome ahead of safest urban design.”
Mr Roberts questioned why the concrete barriers were being considered for the area.
“Why would you place a concrete barrier in an area that has allegedly seen three head-on crashes in five years when other sections have seen four crashes in less than two years?” he said.
“Although the RMS completed a report to the Roads Minister Mr Duncan Gay over a month ago, he has sat on it with no response to myself or the council.
“If this was actually about safety, the RMS wouldn’t need to stop to investigate. I gave them enough proof that a barrier was not necessary at all and that the data they were using was full of inaccuracies.
“The government treats the Blue Mountains like the poor relation. We are country in trains and taxis, but conveniently a part of Sydney when it comes to our roads and other areas of Sydney are of greater significance.”