FREEWAY PLAN MAY BE DAZZLING SUCCESS

Has VicRoads got it wrong? Has it mistaken the south end of Moorooduc Road (known as Old Moorooduc Rd) with the near-top end of the Mornington Peninsula Freeway?

You, alert reader, can see how easily it could happen. There they are (see map), the Mornington Peninsula Freeway and Old Moorooduc Road, running parallel from where Peninsula Link ends at the bridge over Moorooduc Highway.

Mornington Pen Fwy SSRIP barrier map_largeAnd you will have noted the laughable map error – further south the freeway is shown going over the Nepean Highway, not under it. Such mistakes are known (were known) in newspaper editorial departments as “slips that pass in the night”, only spotted as delivery trucks left loading docks with hundreds of thousands of first editions aboard.

But VicRoads may not have made a mistake at all. The “run-off-road treatment” the map shows along the freeway is not due to start until September, which is a month away. Whoever came up with the words “run-off-road”? The opposite is intended, surely.

So the flexible safety barrier being installed along Nepean Highway south of Old Moorooduc Rd is a warm-up exercise and bonus protection for motorists. At the south end of this section is a memorial for youngsters whose car ran off the road just before Moats Corner and hit a tree.

Meanwhile, up on the freeway, the VicRoads plan is to protect motorists along “this important regional route” by installing three “continuous flexible safety barriers” all the way along the marked section, to Boneo Rd, Rosebud.

These barriers are not popular with motorbike riders, who can get appalling injuries from the flexible wires and inflexible posts, especially along roads subject to crosswinds such as the stretch inland from Safety Beach.

VicRoads’ plan is to remove all the median strip vegetation, which now shields traffic from oncoming headlights, and some from outside the barriers at the road edges. It has “generally reached the end of its life expectancy” VicRoads claims, “and is considered a fire hazard.”

In some areas “replanting of fire resistant indigenous species” – with tube stock – “will be undertaken.”

The VicRoads media release states that the Mornington Peninsula Freeway “has been identified as one of the highest risk rural roads within the State Government’s ‘Towards Zero 2016–2020 Road Safety Strategy and Action Plan’.

“In the past five years alone on this section of the freeway there has [sic] been 48 serious crashes. More than had [sic; probably “half”] of these accidents were run-off crashes resulting in three people losing their lives and a further nine being hospitalised with serious injuries.

The project has involved VicRoads, the Transport Accident Commission, the shire, police, CFA, State Emergency Services and Ambulance Victoria – and the community, of course, to tell us what has been decided, with plans “available for viewing and feedback at a community information session you are invited to attend” in mid-July.

An attendee reported back to Bandicoot that an aerial photo of one crash scene showed that the median vegetation effectively stopped cars en route for a head-on. It was pointed out that, as well as shielding drivers from oncoming headlights, the median foliage reduces road noise and baffles strong winds – very noticeable along the peninsula foreshore.

Back to motorbike riders, whose numbers are growing on the peninsula. The VicRoads documents did not refer to them at all. “When I asked about that,” said Bandicoot’s informant, “we were told that bike crash data for this section of freeway was negligible, and that data they do have on bike crashes and this flexible barrier fencing elsewhere was that most injuries were caused by the rider hitting one of the posts.

“So presumably the posts aren’t flexible. It is common knowledge amongst motorcyclists that the high tensile wire shreds riders’ limbs. Either way, as bike riders are less protected than car drivers, it would be unfortunate if protecting car drivers was at the expense of bike riders.”

And it would be calamitous if removal of the old, fire-prone median strip vegetation were to result in an upsurge of accidents along this section of freeway during the five, perhaps more, years it will take for tube stock to grow, to again block the dazzling headlights of arrogant idiots who fail to dip them.