Two more sections of safety barrier on the Princes Highway west of Bairnsdale will be removed after they failed recent safety audits, said Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull.
“In what has become an acute embarrassment for the Andrews Labor Government, this now means that five sections of safety barrier will have been removed just months after installation, due to it not being safe.
“I can’t think of any better way of describing this work other than a complete stuff up.
“Barriers will now be removed at the intersections with Blandfords Lane and Swallow Lagoon Road after they failed an independent safety audit and this follows on from removal of barriers at 1150 Princes Highway, Farrells Lane and Providence Ponds.”
Mr Bull raised concerns over a number of intersections with the government in August and just last week received notification that at least two locations failed the safety audit.
“What I cannot understand is why these safety considerations were not covered off in the design stage, rather than have them installed, receive complaints, do an assessment and then say ‘oops we got that wrong let’s take them out’.
“I want to stress yet again that I am not opposed to barriers being installed in the right places, in line with the guidelines and after appropriate community consultation, but this is not what has occurred here.”
Mr Bull said the lack of planning and hasty implementation of these barriers had led to a litany of disasters and backflips that included:
- An about-face on the plan to install centre of the road barriers on the Paynesville Road after community pressure.
- An agreement to remove 25kms of side barrier on the Princes Highway eastbound, where it had been planned to be installed, after community pressure.
- Removal of five sections of barrier weeks after installation, due to it failing safety audits.
- The 3m shoulder not being in line with Regional Roads Victoria’s own standards of a 4-6m shoulder to cater for broken down vehicles.
- Excuse provided for the narrower unsafe shoulder being ‘vegetation impacts’ when the government says safety of road users is its priority, it cannot be both.
- Drivers of vehicles with flat tyres being unable to change them without being dangerously in the traffic lane due to lack of room.
- Failure to remove old ripple strips in the carriageway, despite a promise to do so four months ago.
- Major road surface failure requiring ongoing patch up works as a result of the new traffic lane being built on the old shoulder.
- Failure to listen to former roads contractors who pre-warned the old shoulder would not stand up to heavy traffic loads and it is now collapsing.
- Installing steel barriers that impede line of sight, when all the public consultations exhibited less visually intrusive wire rope barriers.
“The fact so many changes have had to be made on the run, clearly indicates lack of planning and consultation and a failure of quality systems, there can be no other excuse for this level of incompetence.
“And now we also have a situation where we have had no work for almost two months. It has just stopped with no explanation. It seems Regional Roads Victoria might be finally realising what a self-imposed disaster they have on their hands,” said Mr Bull.