Bill: Appropriation Bill 2016 (Grievances)


Mr GARDNER ( Morialta ) ( 16:17 ): I wish to take the opportunity today to talk about an intersection in my electorate and the opportunities for improving that intersection that my community would like to see implemented. The intersection in question is the corner of Reid Avenue and St Bernards Road, which is pretty much right out the front of the Morialta electorate office so, not wanting to just take my own personal interests into account here, I also have previously brought to the parliament a petition signed by hundreds of local residents and, more recently, conducted a survey of the surrounding suburb of Rostrevor. 

I know the member for Hartley took a similar survey of the surrounding suburb of Hectorville on the other side of St Bernards Road. Upon receiving the results of this survey, we presented some material to the government, and it is that material and the government's response that I will use my time today to discuss in urging the government to act on the wishes of my community and undertake some necessary works. When I was first elected to the parliament in March 2010, the former member for Morialta, Lindsay Simmons, had, in response to community desires for traffic lights at the corner of Graves Street and Newton Road in Newton, elicited from her party an election promise to undertake a draft road management plan of the area. 

While this draft road management plan was not in itself a bad thing, I said at the time, and have since been proven to be correct over the last six years, that it was a fig leaf to cover the Labor Party's embarrassment that they were refusing to service the people of Morialta and Hartley by delivering those traffic lights that were so sorely and are still so sorely desired at the corner of Graves Street and Newton Road. Further, the road management plan would only be worth the paper it was written on and the hundreds of thousands of dollars of DPTI staff time and consultation time that was undertaken in order to prepare it if it actually did result to improvements along the road. 

DPTI did spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of staff time and management time and community consultation. They had many responses and many engineers' considerations of what to do along the whole stretch of St Bernard's Road, Darley Road, Newton Road, Penfold Road, along the way, as was promised. They produced a very thick document with dozens and dozens of recommendations that would have benefitted the community of Morialta and Hartley. 

Campbelltown council responded, I responded, Vincent Tarzia, as he was then, before he was elected as the member for Hartley, put in his two bits in encouraging a response to that, and we ended up with a document that, while not perfect, had many opportunities to improve. One of the significant recommendations it had was for improvement at Reid Avenue and St Bernard's Road. 

Consequently, nothing has happened. None of the recommendations has been put in place. None of the improved treatments at any of the intersections that were envisaged by the transport department have been put in place. None of what they describe as candidates for funding have ever been funded. Consequently, the Labor government's hollow promise (as it was) in 2010 to undertake a road management plan has been proven to be just that, hollow. 

At any rate, it did come up with some suggestions for improvements to Reid Avenue and St Bernard's Road and also integrated into the intersection of Karrawirra Road and St Bernard's Road, which is right outside my office, as it happens. Undertaking that survey, it was a genuine survey, it was letterboxed by volunteers to all of the people in Rostrevor and Hectorville that would be impacted, potentially, by any change. They are seeking what they would like because there are a number of issues. 

Firstly, there are traffic problems at those corners of St Bernard's Road and Karrawirra Avenue and St Bernard's Road and Reid Avenue. Secondly, there is a significant supermarket, Romeo's Rostrevor Foodland, that is a point of great desirable access for people living in Hectorville, but it is very dangerous to cross St Bernard's Road to get there. There is a tiny pedestrian refuge at the moment that, currently, we see people trying to access and not finding it very easy. Only two weeks ago my office staff witnessed an elderly resident being hit by a truck that nearly killed them. Fortunately, it slowed down so that they were only seriously injured. I say that very seriously because they were very nearly killed. It is a dangerous intersection, compounded by the traffic problems. 

We received over 100 responses: 72 per cent support a sheltered right-turn lane being introduced into Reid Avenue, 5 per cent oppose that and 23 per cent are unsure. On the question of right turn lanes being put into both Reid Avenue and Karrawirra Avenue, 67 per cent supported, 3 per cent opposed and 29 per cent were unsure. For pedestrian access, 80 per cent supported the introduction of pedestrian-activated traffic lights, 14 per cent supported a wider pedestrian refuge and 3 per cent supported no change. 

In December of last year I provided that information to the Minister for Transport, having previously spoken to him about the matter when he was kind enough to visit the Morialta electorate earlier in the year. The minister responded more recently, identifying that he had both forwarded my letter to the Minister for Road Safety, the Hon. Peter Malinauskas, and also identifying, and I quote from his letter: 

The recommended option in the draft [road management plan] for St Bernards Road involves adding sheltered right turn lanes into Reid Avenue and Karrawirra Avenue. The proposed right turn lanes would also retain the pedestrian refuge, which would be upgraded and situated between the two side roads. 

[The department] appreciates the local feedback your office has provided and will continue to seek funding opportunities for this work in the future. 

Mr Malinauskas, the Minister for Road Safety, responded separately with a similar letter, and I will quote part of that as well. He said similar things about the described suggestion, the road management plan. He said: 

This project was to be nominated as a potential Blackspot Project for the 2016/2017 financial year. Unfortunately, given the estimated high cost of the treatment ($1.6m) compared with the benefit to the community, funding for this work was not seen to be as high in priority when compared to many other projects across the arterial road network. As a consequence, the project did not receive funding. Notwithstanding, [the department] will continue to seek other funding opportunities for this work. 

He then goes on to describe why the department would prefer to undertake the treatment that deals with introducing right turn lanes only and not traffic lights. I make the point that if those right turn lanes were introduced with a wider pedestrian refuge that would still be a significant improvement on what we have now. This $1.6 million figure in the minister’s letter stunned me because we are actually talking about an area that has very wide footpaths with a shopping centre that would be delighted to assist the government in having a crossing introduced because their residents are the ones whose lives who are going to be safer. 

In relation to the minister’s comments about it being a potential Black Spot project but obviously not a high enough priority again, given the recent casualty crash that my staff witnessed a couple of weeks ago, I imagine that that might impact on the Black Spot project’s priority order, and I hope that the government will take that into account, as this is a very dangerous area. This $1.6 million stunned me, so I wrote to the minister again, saying: 

In order to assist in helping me , and my constituents , to understand the reasons for the proposed treatments of these intersections not receiving support , I would be much obliged if you might provide a breakdown of the costings for the project that identifies how the suggested figure of $1.6 million is reached. 

I am very grateful to the Hon. Peter Malinauskas, who responded. For the benefit of the house, I will read what the government can spend $1.6 million on because I am fairly certain that if they had a go at, if they have a look at it, they could get that $1.6 million down drastically. They estimate: 

$193,000 Project/contract management, survey and design, consultation and environmental assessment.

They say that is: 

…a potentially conservative estimate that attempts to allow for variations in the project delivery model, which was yet to be determined. 

I should say it is a conservative estimate—$193,000 for project management by a department undertaking a project they have already done the planning for. They further estimate: 

$357,000 Relocation of four communications pits and an allowance for the protection of an existing water main in the vicinity of the proposed works.

That sounds high to me, but I will allow others to cast their expert eye over it. Further: 

$624,000 Construction costs based on an assumed scope of work.

This is introduce two right-hand turn lanes and widen the footpath in a short narrow area—$624,000. The letter continues: 

…demolition and reconstruction of the existing footpath, new pavement beneath existing median islands, pavement rehabilitation to both sides of St Bernards Road for the extension of works, road lighting upgrades and traffic management during construction. 

Finally, somewhere between $182,000 and $454,000 they say is the risk component 'to manage unforeseen works and potential impact to services'. For me the $1.6 million figure does not ring true. I urge the government to look at this again and undertake the works that my community desperately wants.