Residents voice increased complaints as population surge brings traffic snarls

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Tunbridge Street resident Ray Bauskis, with grand daughter Locklyn, 3, has led a petition to the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River about road safety concerns.
Camera IconTunbridge Street resident Ray Bauskis, with grand daughter Locklyn, 3, has led a petition to the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River about road safety concerns. Credit: Warren Hately/Augusta-Margaret R/RegionalHUB

Local motorists are feeling the pinch from the region’s booming population growth, with the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River acknowledging a big increase in calls for help.

Residents on Tunbridge Street and Willmott Avenue have already asked the Shire and local police to help with an uptick in motorists using their roads as “rat runs”.

At the same time, other residents have reported speed limit changes put in place by Main Roads WA are causing problems and now slowing down traffic as intended.

Shire asset services manager David Nicholson said many street residents had contacted the local government for help during the past two years.

“The post-COVID development boom has been accompanied by exponential growth in requests for traffic management and lower speeds limits,” he said.

Mr Nicholson said the Shire’s partnership with RAC and the City of Busselton for its Safer Speeds trial could lead to more 40km/h reductions for some local roads.

While residents feared that speed cut made little difference, he said the 40km/h zones were worthy.

“Even if compliance with the 40 km/h limit is low, a small reduction in vehicle speeds can make a difference in terms of road safety,” he said.

Tunbridge Street resident Ray Bauskis said he hoped a recent petition to the Shire would lead to improvements.

“It’s something worth considering because we’ve got to do something more than the stock-standard stuff because people aren’t listening,” he said.

Willmott Avenue resident Tim Hartnett told the Times action was needed amid concerns Shire consultation on traffic management for the busy route east might not lead to effective solutions.

He also said an electronic warning sign installed by police had “zero effect” on motorists.

“Unfortunately, driver education and signage are not the answer to problems such as those on Willmott Avenue,” he said.

“Drivers clearly require physical barriers to speeding such as speed humps or other traffic-calming measures.

“It is unfair to subject town residents to excessive speeding and the ensuing problems such as noise pollution and reduced safety when speeding is entirely preventable.”

Meanwhile, Brookfield resident John Lawson said there were concerns for school children after the through-road to Rapids Landing opened to relieve highway congestion.

Neighbouring Rapids Landing resident Paul Sargentson told the Times the highway speed reduction – which came into effect late last year to aid subdivision residents stuck at the exit – was not enough without more enforcement.

“This has had no effect on the speed of vehicles travelling on this section,” he said.

“Bunbury dropped their speed limits in a large section of their municipality and then backed that up with a police and speed-camera blitz.”

Margaret River police did not respond to inquiries.

In December, the Times reported penalties for speeding and drink-driving were double that of the previous year.

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