oilspill1THE community of Korumburra and district is concerned that an extensive oil spill, on the South Gippsland Highway between Ruby and Lang Lang on Wednesday, November 16, is still proving to be a hazard for drivers.

They have also asked the question, whether it was a factor in the fatality on the ‘Coal Creek bends’ yesterday, November 22, when a 33 year old Melbourne man was killed.

Vicroads has been asked to respond to the concerns that oil on the highway was at least a factor in the fatality, and also that oil has been a factor in two other serious accidents in the same location – one on Monday, October 31 when six people miraculously escaped injury in a two-car collision and the other on Saturday, November 12 when the heroic actions of a truck driver averted certain disaster for three people in a car which slid into his lane.

‘Friends’ of the Sentinel-Times on Facebook have said they believe there will continue to be the risk of further accidents on the South Gippsland Highway every time a shower of rain follows warm weather because of the residue of oil on the highway.

“How can they clean up a 47km oil spill,” was one reader’s comment.

Contacted by the Sentinel-Times, he said his son had “written off” his car on the western side of Korumburra on the day of the spill.

At the very least, drivers on the highway should take care when the road is wet for the next few months. At best, Vicroads should investigate the situation and may need to carry out an industrial clean of the roadway, especially in the area of the Coal Creek bends, the location of three of these serious accidents to date.

Ultimately, Vicroads should look seriously at spending some of the $50 million that’s been slated for improvements to the South Gippsland Highway, on straightening this problem location.

Certainly, drivers have to “drive the conditions” but there’s also a case for the authorities to “save people from themselves” by improving the standard of the roads, especially such a busy highway as the South Gippsland Highway.

Watch for Vicroads’ response.

Letter to the Editor

Also see ‘Letter to the Editor’ by long-time highway patrol, retired police officer, Wayne Beale printed in last Tuesday’s Seentinel-Times, prior to the fatal collision at around 1pm:

The South Gippsland Highway road alignment through Coal Creek and through the curves near Koonwarra has not changed in over 35 years, yet we are apparently seeing increased collision rates in both these areas, and calls for millions of dollars of our tax money to be spent realigning the road surface. We can’t legislate against lack of common sense and driving skills, as much as we probably should be able to. So here’s a novel idea!

At Coal Creek, install a fixed speed camera in the middle of the dip, and combine that with changes to the speed limit to 60 km/h “when the road is wet”. Suitably signposted, and enforced, that process works very well on the highways of parts of NSW, is enforceable, and may just solve the problem.

Alternatively, lengthen the 80 speed zone east of the area, to enable the mobile speed cameras to be actually sited in an area of high collision and non-compliance with the speed limit, rather than on the numerous “unsafe” bits of straight four lane highway! I’m sure ‘Speed camera ahead’ signs would slow all but those who are examples of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution! This will at least ensure that offenders will receive a fine in the mail weeks after they have put everyone’s life at risk, and may slow them down next time they visit the area!

Traffic travelling east from Korumburra, traffic is in a 60 zone. Lengthen that 60 zone to include the bends, and technology currently exists to enable education then enforcement of that speed zone.

There are even a couple of breaks in the Armco railing where a police car or even a Divvy van could park to use their hand held radar (if they were so inclined)!

Koonwarra could use the same ideas. Reduced enforceable speed zones, rather than those stupid ‘Slow Down, Too Fast’ flashing signs, combined with actual enforcement after a period of education. Again fixed or mobile speed cameras depending on the suitability.

These, and other similar areas, have remained identical to how they were aligned and surfaced for many years, yet increased collision rates indicate a lot if drivers have no ability to make decisions for themselves about appropriate speed for the circumstances!

I’m the last person many would have thought to advocate for more restrictive speed limits, however I’ve come to the realisation that I could be driving towards these “clowns” as they lose control, and a reduction in speed limits is a cheap, easy method of maybe preventing someone being killed or injured, and enable the limited road funding pool to be used actually fixing the road surface. (Now all we need to find is a contractor who can do just that, without the speed humps or deteriorating surface weeks after they’ve made their profit!). By Wayne Beale.

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