Southbank intersection fix underway
By Brendan Rees
A “carefully designed” safety fix at Southbank’s notorious City Rd/Power St intersection is underway after a $2.5m investment was announced.
The site has become a black spot with serious crashes occurring in recent months including an incident in May when a truck ploughed into five pedestrians.
This horrific crash was described as “horrendous” by City of Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp, who, at the time called for “urgent safety measures that can be delivered swiftly”.
Temporary bollards were installed in June but within 24 hours they were bowled over by another truck, along with a street sign.
In a third incident, a truck clipped a car on July 7 and pushed it onto the side of the footpath as it turned left from Power St.
Road Safety Minister Ben Carroll said in July that the State Government had invested $2.5m in exploring long-term solutions for the intersection.
“[It] will progress work on the exploration of upgrade options and how each could work at this complex intersection,” he said.
“Expert teams of engineers and road safety specialists have been working on this site since May, and they’re now at the stage where potential long-term options can be carefully designed, in detail.”
“We’ll continue to work with the City of Melbourne to improve pedestrian safety in this area.”
The state government spent $400,000 earlier this year in short-term safety measures including plastic bollards and planter boxes, signs and markings warning of turning trucks, and sensor technology to trigger changes to traffic lights and reduce pedestrian wait times.
Monash University Accident Research Centre senior research fellow Dr David Logan said due to the “challenges of accommodating all road users from pedestrians through to heavy trucks” it would be “very hard to rectify” but acknowledged banning trucks could be an option.
“However, if you do ban articulated trucks from the intersection, or trucks over a certain length, you run the risk of transferring the problem to an alternative route, which could be even worse,” he said.
“Realistically, if you want to give more priority and a better environment for unprotected road users, you may have to constrain the traffic going through there.”
Dr Logan said removing a lane from one or more directions, increasing the width of the footpaths and “calming the whole intersection overall” could be explored.
“For an intersection like this, just painting white lines and putting planter boxes in doesn’t make the intersection inherently safe,” he said.
“You’ve got to make the community advocate for the best possible compromise in what the use of that intersection should be.”
Under the Road Safety Act (1986), trucks that are 4.65 metres long, and placard loads such as fuel tankers cannot use the Citylink tunnels.
This is also applicable to livestock vehicles, but all other heavy vehicles are permitted to use the tunnels.
Southbank Residents’ Association (SRA) president Tony Penna said until changes were made the intersection would “remain a hazard”.
“We’ve got to take trucks off that road … that’s the ultimate solution. It’s not a thoroughfare for a high-density street,” he said.
“The bollards, which were bowled over by a truck, emphasises that this is a really bad intersection.”
Victorian Transport Association CEO Peter Anderson, whose organisation is part of a working group examining the intersection, said as a freight route “it is essential cyclists and pedestrians be quarantined from the intersection where possible”.
“When there are plenty of adjacent roads that are better suited to cyclists, it makes no sense to encourage or facilitate a direct interface between bicycles and heavy vehicles,” he said.
“As for pedestrians, attenuated concrete corners with rigid barriers must be a part of solutions to separate them from trucks, along with offset crossings to keep pedestrians as safe as possible.”
Jan Martz, who lives in a nearby apartment tower, said it was a “dangerous corner” that urgently needed to be fixed.
“It will continue to be an ongoing problem until they change something. Either get pedestrians off that corner or get the trucks out of there, but the two don’t mix together very well,” she said.
A 64-year-old truck driver was charged and bailed over the crash in May that injured five pedestrians all aged in their 20s and 30s. All patients were taken to hospital and have since been discharged •