Opposition grows over RMS Dubbo bridge plan

By: Greg Bush, Photography by: Karina McLachlain


City bypass needed to reduce heavy vehicle traffic, says community group

Opposition grows over RMS Dubbo bridge plan
Another day, another traffic jam along Whylandra St, Dubbo

 

Concerned Dubbo residents, Dubbo mayor Ben Shields, association members and key industry personnel, including road safety advocate Rod Hannifey, have reinforced their position against the NSW Government’s plan for a River St bridge across the Macquarie River.

The Stop The River Street Bridge community group claims to have more than 10,000 signatures on its petition to have an alternate bridge build at Troy Bridge Road, which would then create a Dubbo bypass.

At the petition handover ceremony on October 29, Mayor Shields spoke about why Dubbo Regional Council opposed a bridge at the River Street site and why they support a Troy Bridge bypass.

The New South Wales Roads & Maritime Services has previously said that an upgrade of Troy Bridge would not benefit the Dubbo community and would cater for only 10 per cent of traffic.

However, petition organiser Karina McLachlain says the opinions of the road transport industry, which would benefit from the bypass, has not been considered.

"As a national highway, the A39 extends from Queensland to Victoria. The Newell is important to the economies of Brisbane, Melbourne and many towns and cities in between," McLachlain told the gathering.

"The road transport industry that uses the Newell is directly affected by what happens in Dubbo and yet they have been excluded from consideration.

"When I went to the Bathurst Truck show last year to speak to drivers, they only needed to hear the words ‘bypass for Dubbo’ before they were almost snatching the petition out of my hand in their race to sign it. I collected 380 signatures that day!"


BATTLE FOR THE BYPASS: CLICK HERE


John Morris, who runs a transport consultancy business, is also a member of the Newell Highway Task Force (NHTF). He says the NHTF has an official policy position to support the heavy vehicle freight bypass for Dubbo and take heavy trucks out of the Dubbo CBD.

"I have been a keen advocate of a heavy transport freight bypass around Dubbo for over 22 years," Morris says.

"Whylandra St and Erskine St are now handling a huge number of heavy vehicles which are increasing every day.

"We now have 36.5m type 1 roadtrains, B-triples and AB-triples running on the Newell Highway from Melbourne to Brisbane and return.

"It is essential, in the interests of road safety, productivity and truck driver wellbeing, as well as the safety of our Dubbo motorists, that we design, fund and build the first of three heavy transport bypasses around Dubbo sooner rather than later. The north-west bypass first."

Group researcher and statistician Paul Oboohov then presented two of 13 charts he had compiled.

"The ‘take-away’ from Paul’s research is that the 12 bypasses that were studied in NSW from 1997 to 2018, over 20 years, showed that the crashes in each town were dramatically reduced by 74.04 per cent to a level of 25.96 per cent of the original level of crashes before the bypasses went in," Morris continues.

"The ‘casualties’, that’s people killed or injured, fell from 518 to 213, a drop of 58.88 per cent. That is 41.12 percent of the original level of people killed or injured. That’s a lot of lives saved.

Heavy vehicles tackle the Whylandra and Victoria St roundabout.

One noticeable absentee from the meeting was National Party MP Dugald Saunders, the member for Dubbo. And McLachlain didn’t hold back when referring to Saunders’ opposition to the bypass and Troy Bridge.

"Since the NSW Government announced its preferred option of River St, without even allowing us the opportunity to vote for Troy Bridge Road, there has been no end to the extent of misinformation that the RMS and Dugald Saunders have disseminated for public consumption," she says.

"Dugald’s background in the media gives him an air of superficial credibility. However, the attractive picture that Dugald paints is revealed as a horror story in waiting by even rudimentary fact-checking.

"There is no disguising that the River Street proposal is a disaster waiting to happen," McLachlain says.

"The reason that we started the petition was because many members of the public were angry and needed an avenue in which to redirect their anger into positive action.

"Also, many members of the public were still unaware of how unsuitable the location chosen for the new Newell Highway bridge was and how it would cause far more problems than it would solve," McLachlain adds.

"We did not want people to wake the day after the new bridge opened, faced with worse traffic or to find the bridge inaccessible in a flood due its submerged approach roads and think ‘I wish I had taken more notice of this project when we still had a chance to stop it’."

The petition handover was live screened on the Stop The River Street Bridge Facebook page, which is available for viewing.

 

 

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