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Plans finalised to overhaul dangerous Power St-City Rd intersection, but community still holds concerns

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Brendan Rees

Much-anticipated designs to upgrade the notorious City Rd-Power St intersection have been finalised which the state government maintains will “work for every road user”.

Several changes will be made to the intersection under a $3.8 million overhaul with works to begin later this year, but the community still has fears that until trucks are banned, the intersection will pose a safety risk.

The overhaul comes after a truck hit and injured five people in a horrific incident in May last year, prompting the community to launch a petition calling for all heavy vehicles to be removed along the dangerous stretch of road.

Following an extensive investigation along with consultation with the community, the designs for the intersection include shifting and realigning all lanes on City Rd as well as widening the footpath to allow more room for large trucks to turn, which many use to access the nearby Westgate Freeway.

The left-turn lane on City Rd would also be extended to reduce congestion between drivers turning into Power St and those travelling straight.

Safety bollards will also be installed, and the pedestrian crossing shifted to create more space between pedestrians and road users.

 

While the community has welcomed the plan as a step forward in improving safety, it strongly believed removing heavy vehicles would be the “ultimate answer”.

 

Southbank Residents Association president Tony Penna said the final design “certainly goes some way to addressing safety concerns” but “trucks need to come off that intersection”.

“That’s the ultimate answer, but the interim solution that they are proposing will certainly make it safer,” he said.

This sentiment was also shared by Monash University Accident Research Centre Senior Research Fellow Dr David Logan who said as far as he could see the upgrade plan “will substantially improve safety for pedestrians at the intersection.”

But he added, “The issue that remains is that the plan still centres on facilitating heavy vehicle movements and therefore unavoidably compromises the amenity of the area for pedestrians and cyclists.”

The Southbank3006 residents’ group said in addition to its concerns with heavy vehicles using the intersection, it also feared speed would be a factor as drivers negotiated a wider turning arc onto Power St, compromising the safety of pedestrians.

Southbank3006’s spokesperson Jannine Pattison said the issue among other concerns was discussed during a forum between the Department of Transport (DoT) and the community on June 27.

“On the whole, I welcome the upgrades, but have always maintained it is part of a bigger picture,” she said.

“Too many vehicles use City Rd as a thoroughfare to avoid the City Link toll, it would be interesting to run a study or survey and see how many vehicles exit the freeway at Power St only to rejoin it after Batman Ave.”

Ms Pattison said questions also remained around the need for the current parking spaces on City Rd, which residents believed “could be removed to facilitate better traffic flow.”

“I think light sequencing will play an important part in keeping everyone safe, and it was suggested that lights remain red for all road traffic while pedestrians cross over Power St, much like the light sequence on Flinders St.”

The forum heard that works would take between 12 to 16 weeks and involve night works, with completion anticipated in February 2023.

Another community forum is expected to be held closer to when the works begin.

Roads and Road Safety Minister Ben Carroll said the upgrade was critical in making the intersection safer.

“This is an extremely busy, high-density area of Melbourne used by all road users including heavy vehicles who cannot use the CityLink tunnel, so it was vital we got the design right,” he said.

“These significant upgrades will completely transform this busy Southbank intersection – delivering a safer crossing for pedestrians and more space for heavy vehicles to navigate.”

Temporary measures including concrete blocks, plastic bollards and planter boxes, markings and signs warning of turning trucks, and sensors to reduce pedestrian waiting times were introduced last year.

The DoT will continue to work with the City of Melbourne, the freight industry, residents, traders on the major upgrade.

According to data from the DoT, there have been seven collisions at the intersection in the five years to June 2020, one of which involved a B-double truck.

Southbank3006 will meet with the City of Melbourne’s transport planning strategy team on July 6 to follow up on and further discuss issues and questions that arose from the community forum.

“This is a great step towards aligning community needs with council and government bodies,” Ms Pattison said.

“Southbank3006 will continue to engage with and listen to our community and follow through on our promise to advocate for what is important to Southbank residents.” •

 

Caption: (Picture 1) Residents welcoming the major upgrade to the City Rd-Power St intersection, but are will calling for trucks to be banned and (Picture 2) a graphic showing the new-look City Rd intersection

Photo: Murray Enders.

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