Increased speed limit on Pacific Hwy a long way off
ACCORDING to a report by the Australian Roads Assessment Program (AusRAP), not a single kilometre of highway or freeway in NSW or the ACT meets the standard required for a 120kmh speed limit.
The issue of a possible increased speed limit on the Pacific Hwy was raised earlier this month when NSW Minister for Roads Duncan Gay said the existing system of speed limits in NSW on the Pacfic and Hume highways did not reflect current automotive standards and could be higher in some areas under some conditions.
Mr Gay has since said it's worth considering the arguments for and against such a change but only after gathering all the relevant facts.
"I haven't indicated I want to increase the speed but I'm looking at getting some facts so there can be a proper community debate," Mr Gay said to the ABC.
"People have asked for the debate and I was gathering the information for that debate."
If AusRAP's $4.7 billion plan released in 2013 for upgrading the nation's road network was fully implemented, then by their own analysis only the stretch of the Hume Hwy between Sydney and Campbelltown would be consistently safe enough to raise the speed limit.
The Pacific Hwy would still require even more work to provide a consistent speed limit.
NRMA President Kyle Loades also emphasised the need to look at the detail.
"Every road has to be judged on the same merit, including crossroads and intersections," Mr Loades said.
"We will wait and see what the RMS says, if it says the road design is safe to have a 120km/h limit then we will consider it."
The current stance of both the NRMA and NSW Government is before speed limits can be increased to 120kmh, there is a need for grade-separated intersections and crossroads: expensive and extensive roadworks to remove the dangers posed by slower vehicles turning into or merging from side roads.
"We're OK at 110km/h but when you've got crossroads coming in on most of those roads ... that's a problem," Mr Gay said.
NRMA's road safety experts say there are a range of design issues that would also need to be considered such as the road alignment, the width of traffic and breakdown lanes, the need for a safe roadside free of hazards like trees or poles and the extent of crash barriers to prevent collisions.
These improvements would all help a road achieve a five-star safety rating, which would support any increase in the speed limit.