Hillsborough Road Safety
23rd June 2016
Mr GREG PIPER ( Lake Macquarie ) ( 16:39 :45 ): In contributing to this debate I wish to first reflect on the tragic death of Jade Frith and put on record once more my condolences to Jade's parents, Melissa and Matthew, and her brother, Josh, for their loss. There is no doubt that this incident changed many lives forever, including that of the driver of the car which, without any fault, struck Jade. The term "senseless loss of life" so frequently used is very appropriate in this case. Jade was loved by the many friends she had made, particularly through school and through her swimming. Jade was vibrant, well liked, and was clearly on the cusp of something great in her swimming career, let alone what she would have achieved in other areas.
Jade's death was tragic, and brought into sharp relief the need to upgrade a section of road that has been a problem for many years and which is becoming increasingly so with a growing number of road users and businesses located along much of its length. Jade came from Coal Point in the Lake Macquarie electorate and the section of road in question is shared by the electorates of Lake Macquarie and Charlestown. I am therefore pleased to be able to support the member for Charlestown in this debate. No doubt many if not all of the more than 10,000 people who signed the petition we are debating would have had some level of concern about this road and would have believed it needed upgrading. They are right, whether it is at the roundabout, other intersections, pedestrian refuges, or at nearby locations such as where Jade was struck.
We know, the Roads and Maritime Services [RMS] was in the planning phase of improvements to Hillsborough Road at the time of the accident and that recommendations on this road corridor are due to come down later this year. RMS is of course rightly looking at a number of locations, and I am particularly keen to see the inarguably dangerous intersection with Crockett Street addressed as well. While the ultimate solution to problems around the Hillsborough and Macquarie Road intersection is likely the installation of traffic lights, in my opinion, or other significantly expensive measures, I believe that a number of interim safety measures are called for. RMS staff are not immune to the impact of such tragedies. I know they are also upset. When I contacted the Regional Manager, Anna Zycki, soon after the accident, she informed me that her staff were already looking at interim measures that could be taken.
Those measures include a pedestrian barrier fence on the median strip. This would have taken away the chance for Jade to risk crossing at that point, but it would still not properly address the undue risks for pedestrians crossing at the roundabout. While these are welcome short-term measures, which I would implore the Government to ensure are implemented quickly, the bigger picture will need significant upgrade to traffic management at the Hillsborough, Macquarie Road and Medcalf Street intersection. Traffic lights as called for by this petition seem an obvious way to maximise traffic efficiency and pedestrian safety, and I support those calling for them unless it can be shown that there is a supportable better solution. In closing I thank Nicole Antony and those who worked to raise the more than 15,000 signatures on this petition and once again offer my sincere condolences to Jade's parents, Matthew and Melissa
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