An objector is weighing up legal options following the council’s decision to re-open Carr Street in west Goulburn.
Sharon Howe made the comment following Tuesday’s council meeting at which councillors agreed upon a suite of measures to improve Run-O-Waters access but also traffic controls at South Goulburn.
The measures include the extension of Shannon Drive, off Ridge Street, over to Pockley Road, emerging at Run-O-Waters.
A secondary access to the estate has been an ongoing source of contention for residents in emergencies. The council has been trying to resolve the matter for years.
But Ms Howe argues Carr Street’s width and alignment make it too dangerous to re-open. Further, she says the upgrade costs to make it safe far outweigh those of other previously endorsed alternatives.
“I’m not happy,” she said after the meeting.
“I’ve been doing this (campaigning) for three years but I have a clear conscience that I’ve done everything possible to make it clear the road is dangerous. There is not one report that says it’s safe.”
Ms Howe was referring to consultant GTA’s independent traffic report last year which recommended against re-opening Carr Street, partly due its estimated $1.75 million to $2.25m cost. She also called for deferral of a decision, arguing that the council had still not received a police report on the safety of re-opening Carr Street, requested in a meeting resolution last March.
“It would be a further significant waste of ratepayers’ money to ignore the GTA report and answer a case in the Land and Environment Court to ensure an adequate consideration of the facts for the Carr Street agenda item,” she told councillors during open forum.
Ms Howe, a Carr Street resident, lodged a submission written by a solicitor on her behalf. She told the meeting she had not wanted to consult a solicitor but her safety concerns forced her to do so.
Councillors agreed five votes to three to re-open Carr Street, extend Shannon Drive over to Pockley Road and implement other traffic measures for South Goulburn. Crs Margaret O’Neill, Carol James and Denzil Stugiss voted against, while Cr Sam Rowland was a meeting apology.
Carr Street’s widening to seven metres, with a footpath, and reopening is scheduled for 2018/19. The council would complete the northern section at a $685,000 cost. The council wants the developers of the already approved 34-lot Grandview Estate to complete the southern section.
The DA carries a condition to upgrade the Ducks Lane end of Carr Street. Councillors authorised general manager Warwick Bennett to hold discussions “without prejudice” with the developer about their willingness to undertake the work in 2018/19. If this timeframe did not fit, then Mr Bennett would negotiate a voluntary planning agreement with them for the council to complete the work in 2018/19.
Ms Howe has pointed out that this DA also carries a condition that Carr Street not be re-opened and that a cul-de-sac be constructed.
Mr Bennett will also undertake the same negotiations with developers of a Shannon Drive subdivision to complete that thoroughfare’s extension over to Pockley Road in 2018/19. That DA is due to be decided in March.
Complementing this is the extension of Mary Street to Ridge Street to complete the connection. The work, including sealing and widening to two lanes, is scheduled for 2019/20. This and the Shannon Drive work are estimated to cost $750,000. Mr Bennett said it could happen earlier, in 2018/19, in conjunction with Shannon Drive, if developer talks are successful.
Mayor Bob Kirk withdrew a part of the motion calling for the immediate re-opening of Carr Street to light traffic until the full upgrade was completed. He said after the meeting he did so because the council had not received the police report on Carr Street’s reopening requested last March.
“I pointed out to councillors we were (therefore) not in a position to consider this,” he said.
However they did receive an email from Highway Patrol Sergeant Rod Cranston stating that it was “a mistake” to re-open Carr Street in its present form and he believed it would require significant upgrade to avoid the potential for crashes.
The response was only received after Tuesday’s council agenda was completed. Cr Kirk could not explain why the response had taken almost a year. Ms Howe said she had previously contacted police about the March request and was told they “knew nothing about it.” Sergeant Cranston had asked about it at a February 1 traffic committee meeting.
Cr Kirk told The Post he’d always advocated the street’s re-opening and it was the “overwhelming” community sentiment aired at a consultation meeting in December.
“But I won’t just make a decision to stick to my guns at the expense of public safety,” he said.
“Police say it’s not safe currently but the outcome of Tuesday’s meeting is to make it wider and set aside funds in the 2018/19 budget. It won’t be reopened in its current form but as a safer road in a network.”
The Mayor said people at the December consultation forum were “absolutely critical” of the council for the “stop-start” attitude to Carr Street. He also questioned the veracity of claims there had been a bus crash in Carr Street in the mid 1990s, prompting its closure.
Other submitters, including Barry and Margaret Thompson, thanked the council for its “commonsense proposal” for the street and wrote that it was “long overdue.”
“If all the recommendations are adopted, Run-O-Waters will become a much safer place to live,” they stated.
In the broader area, councillors endorsed construction of a road link between Lockyer Street and Tait Crescent, behind the South Goulburn Service Centre, at a $1.3m cost. This is designed to free up traffic flow.
The council will also negotiate construction of a roundabout at the Mary/Hume Street and Hume/Finlay Road intersections with the Roads and Maritime Service to improve safety.
In addition, it will talk to RMS about the possibility of installing traffic signals at the Sowerby Street/Hume Street intersection “to alleviate potential future traffic pressures” associated with truck movements in the area.