Main Roads WA defends against claims Cowaramup speed reductions are inadequate safety steps

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Parkwater Resident Association committee member Lisa Bell.
Camera IconParkwater Resident Association committee member Lisa Bell. Credit: Warren Hately/Augusta-Margaret R/Augusta-Margaret River Times

Main Roads WA has defended against claims it hasn’t done enough to support the safety of residents in trouble-plagued Cowaramup.

The road agency came under fire from members of the new Cowaramup Road Safety Committee for saying that speed reductions along Bussell Highway were useful measures to alleviate safety concerns.

Instead, committee member Lisa Bell – who is campaigning for a master plan to address growing traffic and access problems for the bustling hamlet – said Main Roads pointing to reductions as well as the town’s often unguarded traffic crossing were a “joke”.

“Data published by RAC shows that pedestrians hit by a car travelling at 40km/h has a 40 per cent chance of dying,” she said.

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“This figure is likely to be higher where children are involved, and does not include serious injury.

“Further, they (Main Roads) have increased the speed limit in front of our busiest intersection to 60km/h. Nearly anyone hit by a vehicle travelling at that speed will die.”

The speed changes were questioned by residents upon their introduction, with Cr Ian Earl describing the proliferation of signs as “a shemozzle”.

A Main Roads spokesperson said the speed changes were introduced mid-2022 after a successful trial of the benefits of 40km/h zones “in a number of towns in the South West”.

“It is acknowledged the implementation of the 40km/h zone necessitated changes on the adjoining speed zones,” the agency said.

Main Roads did not respond to Ms Bell saying it was laughable to call the town’s crossing “guarded”.

The agency instead pointed to talks underway with the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River about a possible pedestrian refuge island.

Ms Bell remained adamant not enough was done to address serious safety concerns, highlighted by a traffic incident on October 13.

“Main Roads and the Shire insist that they have made the road safer by installing signs informing pedestrians that vehicles have right of way,” she said.

“It doesn’t make it safe. People walk out in front of vehicles all the time. It’s not because they are reckless or fail to read signs.

“They do it because it is often the only way to cross the bloody street.”

South West MLC Sophia Moermond from the Legalise Cannabis WA party also flagged those safety concerns in Parliament.

After contact with Cowaramup residents, Ms Moermond told the Times she would continue investigating the roadblock to a feasible solution.

“Driving through Cowaramup regularly, it is obvious that the volume of traffic is overwhelming for such a small town,” she said.

In response to Ms Moermond’s questions, Stephen Dawson MLC representing Transport Minister Rita Saffioti also said Main Roads and the Shire were working together on solutions.

Councillors last week held a closed briefing to discuss the October 26 Cowaramup Road Safety Committee meeting.

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