Parents of students at Orana School in Weston are concerned about the safety of their children due to an expected increase in traffic in Unwin Place.
The school has made representation to the ACT Government in the past about traffic movement at the intersection of Streeton Drive and Dixon Drive.
Since one of the access points to the new housing development at North Weston is located in Unwin Place, there are fears that things are going to get worse unless changes are made.
“The intersection is a fatality waiting to happen, and we are opposed to anything that will aggravate the situation further,” parent Judy Krassay said.
“It is lucky that there haven’t been any fatalities yet.
“The two intersections are really badly designed; it is just awful, especially if your are trying to turn right out of Unwin Place.
“I don’t think the government realises how bad the traffic here is; they should come and watch the traffic from about 8.15am on any school morning to see what it is like.”
Ms Krasay conducted her own traffic count at the intersection in September last year and her figures were dramatically different – by up to 185 vehicle movements in one hour – from those of SMEC Australia, who prepared a traffic report for the ACT Government for the relocation of the Islamic School to the nearby Weston CIT campus.
Orana’s School resources administrator Marie-Anne Gigon said there were regular problems at the intersection, including three accidents there in the previous week.
“It is hard to focus on all the different levels of traffic,” she said
“Something should have been done years ago, and there is no guarantee anything will happen this year.
“Our priority is looking after the children; we have 630 students in Orana, and a lot of those walk or ride their bikes to school.
“There is currently no safe crossing in Unwin Place for the children to get to school and now we are going to have extra traffic, including trucks, traveling between our two campuses.”
Ms Krassay said any solution should have pedestrians and bicycle friendly features, such as an underpass or traffic lights, so that children could have a safe trip to school.
The ACT Government’s plan to alleviate the traffic problems is to align Dixon Drive with Unwin Place and turn the intersection into a roundabout.
It claims that this would accommodate the projected traffic in the area until 2031.
Deputy chairman of Weston Creek Community Council, Tom Anderson, said the council was seeking an undertaking from the ACT Government that funds for the realignment of Dixon Drive would be provided in the 2010-11 budget and that construction would take place in the financial year.
Speaking to Te Chronicle, Director of Roads ACT, Tony Gill, said his department had a number of traffic easing projects in line for funding in the area in the next financial year.
As well as the realignment and roundabout at Dixon Drive and Unwin Place, the existing roundabout at Kirkpatrick Street and Cotter Road will be upgraded to traffic lights, and additional turning lanes at the intersection of Streeton Drive and Cotter Road.
“There will be a second access point to the North Weston development on Kirkpatrick Road, so the traffic to the development will be shared between it and Unwin Place,” he said
“If the bids for the three upgrades are successful, they will be constructed in the 2010-11 financial year. These are significant intersection projects.
by Peter Reynolds
The Southside Chronicle
23 February 2010