Barrier ‘safety’ debacle

Barrier ‘safety’ debacle

A highly uncomplimentary report by the Victorian Auditor General’s Office, tabled last Thursday regarding regional road safety barriers, has shown VicRoads approved offsets between one and three metres wide – the “absolute minimum offset” allowed.

It’s not anything Billabong Road-house proprietor, Greg Ross, doesn’t know.

Out the front of the iconic road-house there have been four accidents and one further east since the barriers were constructed.

“I haven’t found a customer yet in favour of them,” Mr Ross said.

“It’s been done in the name of safety but safety doesn’t cause accidents.

“Everyone’s saying the same thing but they’re not being heard. It’s falling on deaf ears.

“Remove the barriers.”

Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, has been on the case fielding complaints and making representations to government.

“Given this report and recent spate of accidents on this stretch of highway and the concerns raised by freight organisations, trucking companies, emergency services workers and community members, surely it is time for VicRoads and the minister to admit they have got this wrong and at the very minimum complete an independent safety audit,” Mr Bull said.

For Mr Ross, a particular example is the barrier out the front to the east of the Billabong Roadhouse.

He warns as a truck travels east, truck drivers see the line of sight as they come over the rise, then the line shifts to the north.

“Then VicRoads try and class it as driver fault,” Mr Ross said.

“Drivers are exposed to severe ridicule by departments after the event but they’re professional drivers.

“It’s a joke, people don’t want to drive on the road and they’re taking alternative routes like Bengworden Road.

“It’s our rego money wasted,” Mr Ross said.

“The barriers detract from drivers’ concentration, they’re traumatising traffic and buggering my business.”

Johnny Aitken, of Aitkens Towing, Bairnsdale, believes the safety issue needs to be brought to a head.

“We haven’t had a bad winter yet, in the fog you won’t see them,” Mr Aitken said.

“And what if livestock or wildlife get on there? A lot of trucks don’t  have bullbars,” Mr Aitken said.

“Plus the road surface is degrading it’s not work safe.”

Locals also point out in a serious accident a rescue helicopter won’t be able to land on the road, and in the event of a fire if a car or tree blocks the road people will be stuck.

IMAGE: Billabong Roadhouse proprietor, Greg Ross, is exhausted by the trauma the safety barriers are causing. K319-2986/2989