By Shelby Brooks
BASS Coast and South Gippsland locals who use Healesville-Koo Wee Rup Road to get to Pakenham and Melbourne say they fear for their lives when driving on the notorious stretch of road.
Renewed fears have surfaced after a Koo Wee Rup woman and her unborn baby were killed in a collision on the road on February 4.
And a scooter rider was found unresponsive along the same road after a suspected hit and run on February 9.
The road has been labelled a “death trap” by commentors on a Facebook post made by the Sentinel-Times on February 10.
More than 190 people replied to the question, “Do you regularly use Koo Wee Rup Road to get to Pakenham or Melbourne?”, all expressing their fears when using the road.
“There is nowhere safe to pull over for any reason, whether it be for a flat tyre or a car swerving at you… all of the intersections are death traps in themselves, especially if needing to make a right hand turn or going straight ahead.”
– Rachel Tierney
“Yes, it’s a bumpy nightmare. I have started using alternative roads when possible as the potholes can’t be avoided.”
– Angie Verhaar
“I drive it a minimum of 10 times per week – it’s a horrifying stretch of road that needs to be fixed!”
– Haley Soutter
“That road is still the same as it was 50-plus years ago with a 500 per cent increase in traffic now. How many more fatalities before something is done about it?”
– Maryan Rowe Foote
Bass MP Jordan Crugnale said she has asked the Roads Minister to look at what safety treatments can be done as planning work to duplicate the 10km stretch between Manks Road and the Monash Freeway continues.
“The much-needed duplication is a massive project and one with a completion date in 2025,” she told the Sentinel-Times.
“Planning, land acquisition, environmental studies are all underway and, of course, if we can bring the project forward, we will.”
Ms Crugnale said it wasn’t worth risking your life to get to your destination two minutes quicker.
“I ask everyone that needs to use this road to drive to the local conditions of the day. It used to be 100km/hr, it is now 90km/hr but that does not stop anyone going that extra bit slower. If it is raining, go slower, if travelling at night, go slower if you need to get somewhere by a certain time, leave earlier.
“By going 80km/hr it’s an extra 60 seconds and travelling at 70km/hr is two minutes more. We have all seen people overtaking at speed with a closeness of oncoming traffic – it is not worth it.”
The two stages of the Healesville-Koo Wee Rup Road upgrade includes adding an extra lane in each direction between the Princes Freeway and Manks Road, widening the existing Princes Freeway ramps, installing new traffic lights at Greenhills Road, building a new bridge over Deep Creek near the water recycling plant, installing new roundabouts at Hall Road, south of Deep Creek and Ballarto Road, building a new shared walking and cycling path and adding safety barriers along the road.
“We anticipate appointing a contractor to work through a detailed planning phase of the first stage on the Healesville-Koo Wee Rup Road Upgrade in mid to late 2021,” Ms Crugnale said.