YOU’VE got to slow down in Surf Parade now; that’s the plan.
But in the case of school bus drivers and others in heavy, long vehicles, they’re going to have to approach the chicanes and other traffic calming devices being constructed in the street with great care – if last week’s bus trial at the site is any indication.
After highlighting the issue in the local media last week, Allan Fletcher, the Depot Operations Manager Westernport Roadlines (Leongatha), was contacted by the Bass Coast Shire who invited him to bring his bus with him for a trial last Wednesday.
There was a bevy of shire and project engineers on site when Mr Fletcher arrived at 11am and it must be said, his first pass through the chicane near Veronica Street, travelling in a westerly direction, wasn’t entirely successful.
With little room to swing out on the right, Mr Fletcher took the bus over the kerb and close to the zebra sign in the middle of the chicane but ultimately through. His pass from the other side was considerably easier.
“The first time through was an indication of what others, unused to the situation here will be faced with,” Mr Fletcher said.
“I didn’t want to have to get off the road to make it through and I think they’ll need to provide a turning area.
“But I’m happy we had the meeting with the shire and the project engineers here today.
“They say they can make some changes but ultimately, if our drivers don’t feel comfortable about going this way, we’ll have to change the route which will affect the families.”
Mr Fletcher also confirmed to the shire representatives that he hadn’t received correspondence from the shire or been advised of the changes
to traffic conditions by the schools.
The Council’s General Manager Infrastructure, Felicity Sist, was also pleased with the results of the bus trial and some changes, providing a wider approach area, have already been made.
“The bus trial confirmed the standard 14 metre rigid bus design templates that were used in the design process allowed buses to manoeuvre through the angled single lane slow point successfully,” Ms Sist said.
“As more long vehicle drivers go through these devices, they would build up their confidence and appreciate the functionality of these devices and how to approach them correctly.”
The bus driver and engineers discussed the potential for some additions to the design on site, specifically a wider approach to allow more space for longer vehicles to turn into the chicane, and Ms Sist acknowledged this as a helpful exchange.
“It has always been the intention to widen the approach on each direction. The trial was to ensure that the widening width is reflective of the proposed width.”
On the day, the engineer also underscored the aim of the traffic calming devices, that drivers need to slow down to negotiate the devices; that they shouldn’t be simply able to weave through them at speed.
Mr Fletcher pointed out that some truck drivers, particularly those unused to the area, as well as those towing caravan could get into trouble without warning signs. Ms Sist responded:
“The kerb profiles were designed to be mountable at pinch points, if needed, as well as allowing for bus front overhang. It should be noted that a 14 metre rigid bus has been used for this trial. Vehicles with caravan or trailers are articulated vehicles and have pivoting joints, so they can manoeuvre through the angled single lane slow points more easily when they slow down. Appropriate signage will be installed as part of the project,” she said.
Other motorists, passing while the trial was in progress, took an interest:
“Why didn’t they simply go for roll-over traffic calming devices instead of chicanes which will make it harder for buses, trucks and cars towing caravans to get through,” said one
“The other problem is that you’ll have people coming down here in summer, unaware of these impediments and not being able to get out.”
Others wanted to know when the pathway was going ahead and what the shire was going to do about the other big problem in Surf Parade – the lack of parking at peak times.