RTA to drop speed in 'death zone'
AT long last, the message is getting through about the need for action on the highway death zone.
The Roads and Traffic Authority has announced, albeit with little fanfare, that it will lower speed limits between Nambucca Heads and Urunga.
The move comes on the heels of a spate of serious accidents and a death toll numbering more than 70 since 2000. It’s not the instant start of an upgrade to dual carriageway, but it’s a start.
Under the changes, the maximum speed limit on the highway between south of the Valla Beach Rd intersection to near the Hungry Head turnoff will be dropped from 100km/h to 90km/h.
The maximum speed from south of the Hungry Head intersection to near Urunga will also be changed to 70km/h.
Installation of the new speed limit signs will start this week.
“Electronic message signs will be in place to warn motorists of the speed limit change before new signs are installed at this location,” an RTA spokesman said.
“These message signs will remain in place for at least a week after the new speed signs have been installed.”
The announcement is a victory for frustrated residents pushing for safety improvements on this dreaded stretch of road but the real fix will be the long-awaited highway upgrade from Warrell Creek to Urunga.
“It sounds good to me,” said Dr Ray Jones, one of the organisers of medical lobby group Doctors for a Safe Pacific Highway.
“It is a reduction and reductions are good and it sounds as though it is a reduction over a considerable distance.
“Motorists may not like it, but it means that what we are doing is having some impact.”
The stretch of road was the topic of an RTA safety review last year ordered by previous Roads Minister David Borger.
Dr Jones has recently been interviewed by a Sydney ABC radio station and appeared in a front page national newspaper article, so he said the message appeared to be getting through to the State capital.
“Someone in Sydney has heard we have a problems and it is hard to get that message through,” Dr Jones said.
“Probably the fact that (Deputy Premier) Andrew Stoner’s electorate is in the accident zone does not hurt either.”