Traffic lights "best way forward"

VicRoads has pressed a case for traffic lights to address Gisborne's notorious Station/Saunders Road intersection.

Frustrated road users know too well of the congested traffic during peak travel times, difficulty making safe turns, dangers for pedestrians and cyclists, dangers of trucks navigating the intersection and queuing times.

At a community meeting in Gisborne last week, Brian Westley, VicRoads' regional director, said if no solution was reached for traffic flow improvement for the intersection, the experience would only worsen for road users.

"If we do nothing, delays in Saunders Road for the morning peak are expected to increase by 140 per cent in the next decade. The status quo is not an option," he said.

Mr Westley said traffic along Saunders Road had grown by almost 30 per cent and was projected to grow by more than 40 per cent over the next 20 years. These figures are said to be "conservative".

The prediction comes with growth in region including 10,000 extra homes** in New Gisborne and the navigation to local schools and childcare, sporting facilities, aged care facilities and the train station.

The intersection is also a designated B-double truck route for the New Gisborne industrial precinct. Currently, trucks cannot make a right-hand turn from Station Road to Saunders Road without encroaching on other lanes.

The proposed traffic lights would feature a dedicated right turning lane from Station Road, left slip lanes and dedicated pedestrian crossings connected with existing shared pathways.

Mr Westley said there was not a current footprint for a roundabout to be installed and while there were some benefits of a roundabout, it would involve costly land purchase and removal of more trees.

Mr Westley said traffic lights would encourage more people take up walking or cycling by connecting to shared user paths.

Gisborne Roads and Transport Group chairman Russell Mowatt said he believed "traffic lights were the best way forward" with all aspects considered.

"Future investment on this project by the state government is paramount and will provide a safer outcome for all," he said.

VicRoads has submitted a business case and now awaits a funding decision. If funded, VicRoads will go to detailed design and anticipate delivery in 24 months.

UPDATE

** This week Mr Westley issued the following correction to his statements made at the meeting:

"We know New Gisborne and surrounding areas are experiencing significant growth, that’s why we’ve worked closely with Macedon Ranges Shire Council and the community to investigate the best way to improve safety in this area.

"During last month's community information session, I mistakenly quoted an incorrect growth figure for New Gisborne. The township is anticipated to grow by 320 dwellings as referenced in the New Gisborne Development Plan, and not 10,000 as I mistakenly mentioned.

"I apologise for any confusion this incorrect number has caused.

"VicRoads’ preferred option for the future is traffic lights which would improve safety for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians and significantly improve traffic flow at this key intersection."