As we travel our vast road network, we may have little appreciation of the dynamics of its design and construction criteria. From a gravel country service road to a major arterial expressway, each fulfil a role in the planning of a proper public transport system.
Recently I was privileged to have attended the NSW Local Roads Congress organised by the professionals behind the planning and design of the state’s road network of which Hilltops forms a part.
Imagine your reaction if a framed road plan design was exhibited as a piece of artwork at a gallery. Perhaps, like myself, it would create little interest in our minds eye when compared to the creative impression that would accompany it. The other exhibits would feature colours and styles and a theme unique to each artist which incidentally may be different to us who view it. My hand with a paint brush may please few but I will always have an opinion on artworks, however perhaps not on a bland looking road plan.
If we transform that plan into a constructed road with its own profile, road width and road surface, it becomes ready for our mind’s review and critique.
The Roads Congress was presented with reports by road designers and policy makers as to the criteria toward an Integrated Statewide Road and Transport Planning System. Each seemingly bland plan will form part of a technical and well-designed master plan. Built into each plan is a criterion around the demographics of the community, the road’s place in regional significance and of course overarched by issues on safety.
The Congress recognised the impacts of vehicle crashes not only socially by trauma within a community, but statewide costing $5.4b annually. We were told well over 70% of those crashes occur on regional roads and not on the major highway system. Hilltops Council is responsible for 2769 kilometres of road network.
To me, the work of Council’s Operations section is undervalued by perception. This section works within a framework of both State and community criteria and demands with high technical skills to meet strict safety guidelines. They are also the first to come under scrutiny as we critique our road network.
Of course, crucial to road safety and part of Congress input is the police patrols who can highlight how most of that high accident rate originates - it may be within each of us.
As a result, I believe that the implementation of broader road safety education programs is a critical part of the overall strategy in reducing road trauma. An appreciation of all these factors can only strengthen our community.
Councillor John Walker
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