Moonee intersection a disaster in waiting
By JENI FAULKNER
Residents call for a major speed reduction
IT'S a disaster waiting to happen.
The Pacific Highway/Moonee Beach intersection has long been considered a black spot by locals but, come next week, there are many in the community who are counting down the days until the next fatal.
This grim reality is faced by shop owners, residents, local politicians and the Coffs Harbour City Council, as they unite in their call for speed reduction.
The intersection is currently being upgraded and, on Wednesday, just four days before Christmas, the Moonee Beach Shopping Centre is earmarked to open.
Traffic using the intersection is estimated to increase tenfold and, to coincide with the opening, the Pacific Highway will go back to 100km/h.
People argue it will take another death before the State Government and the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) will sit up and listen, with many praying it won't be someone they know. Joe Lockwood has lived at Forest Glen for 14 years and although he welcomes the shopping centre he warns the new intersection is ludicrous.
"People still have to get across lanes of traffic to get in and out of Moonee," Mr Lockwood said.
"It would have been better to put a roundabout on the highway to keep the speed down because this intersection has always been a black spot and someone will die."
Kirk and Michelle Vidler have been operating the Moonee Beach Tavern for almost three years and both have witnessed numerous accidents.
"I do think the new intersection is an improvement but that should have been done long ago," Mr Vidler said.
"Now we are talking about many more people using the road. At least if it is kept to an 80kmph zone people have a chance to get through but if it is 100 it is too dangerous."
The community concerns are creating momentum as the Christmas rush, holiday makers, grey nomads and the delivery trucks using the intersection draw near.
Ian Peters has lived at Moonee for 28 years and he said the intersection wasn't safe enough for these bigger volumes of traffic.
"You can wait 10 minutes to make a right-hand turn onto the highway and I have to worry when my family have to turn on to this road," Mr Peters said.
"It's dangerous and there will be a fatal soon. We've got a merging lane and a strip used as a merging lane. We all know fatals occur when merging lanes finish."
Rex Mitchell, from Bucca, said there was no room for error when people travel at 100km/h and the speed needed to stay at 80km/h so drivers have at least half a chance to get on to the highway.
Member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser, has written to the RTA and NSW Roads Minister Joe Tripodi warning of the dangers. He also raised the issue in parliament.
"The intersection has obvious danger and my daughter will be working at the shopping centre and I or my wife will be driving her there," Mr Fraser said.
"I will hold them (Tripodi and the RTA) personally responsible if there is a fatal. They only ever react after there is blood on the road."
Mr Fraser is calling for a 60km/h speed limit at the Moonee Beach intersection immediately but he would settle for 70km/h.
Coffs Harbour mayor, Cr Keith Rhoades, said on two occasions council had requested the speed limit be decreased between Coffs Harbour and Woolgoolga.
"We originally asked for 80km/h which was refused so we have now applied for 90km/h and we want to see the speed at the Moonee Beach intersection taken back to 80km/h," Cr Rhoades said.
He concluded that council was not responsible for speed limits on the Pacific Highway but on behalf of the community it was pushing for a reduction.