By Jed Lanyon
Seville East residents have had a small win in their campaign for a safer Warburton Highway as the speed limit has been lowered along a dangerous stretch of road.
But it’s just the beginning for local residents who are pushing to see upgrades in the area.
The speed limit on the highway between Woodside Road and Old Warburton Highway has been reduced from 90 kilometres per hour to 80 kilometres per hour, making it consistent with other large stretches of the highway.
In the past five years up to 31 December 2018, there have been 21 recorded crashes on the Warburton Highway between Seville and Woori Yallock, mostly involving rear-end incidents.
A Woori Yallock man was killed at the location in April last year, while two other incidents resulted in serious injuries in 2019 alone.
Since then, local residents have been campaigning for upgrades that would see dedicated turning lanes for drivers exiting the highway and pedestrian islands to help bridge the gap for children crossing the busy road to reach their bus stop.
A spokesperson from the Department of Transport said: “We’ve listened closely to the community and have responded by making this important speed change to keep all road users safe.
“Reducing the speed limit improves safety for all people living in the area, as well as tourists using the Warburton Highway to visit this beautiful part of Victoria.”
But Evelyn MP Bridget Vallence said the changes fall short of what is required to make the road safe.
“It’s incredibly disappointing the Andrews Labor Government still fails to listen to the Seville East community and has denied the safety upgrades that are desperately needed to fix this dangerous stretch of the Warburton Highway.
Nothing short of dedicated turning lanes and a pedestrian crossing will make this road safer for motorists and school children. There have been too many rear-end collisions and narrow misses, and school kids are left dangerously exposed while trying to cross the Highway.
“The Seville East community deserves better. Together, we won’t stop campaigning until the Andrews Government finally commits the required funding to make this road safe for residents before another tragedy occurs.”
A two car collision occurred at the location as recently as March, just nine days after a Labor MP declared the road was “much safer”, following the installation of guideposts and reflective road tilings.
Seville East resident and founder of Seville East Traffic Safety Group, Joel Supple, said: “This is not the solution we have been pushing for, but we welcome any way to make it safer (for) ourselves and our kids. This is not the end of this battle but we have made it clear it will be a long fight.
“We know we need turning lanes and safe crossing for our pedestrians.”
Another resident, Claire Knowles said: “At a complex double crest it allows more time for drivers to assess conditions and for children to cross the road… It is a step in the right direction and I am sure the campaigning won’t stop until turning lanes are installed.”