News that the city's worst intersection is now eligible for federal funding prompts call for action

THE city’s most confusing intersection, the corner of Lambert and Suttor streets, is now eligible for Federal Black Spot Funding.

STREET BATTLE: Dianne and Kent McNab read the letter from Bathurst Regional Council containing some good news about a dangerous intersection. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK 010317cletter1

STREET BATTLE: Dianne and Kent McNab read the letter from Bathurst Regional Council containing some good news about a dangerous intersection. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK 010317cletter1

Up until recently, crash data for the site indicated it did not have an unusually high accident rate. More recent data, however, has revealed the intersection’s crash history now meets the criteria for funding.

Fearing it’s only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or killed there, Kent and Dianne McNab, who live near the intersection, wrote to council late last year pleading for the road to be realigned.

A near miss, late last year, in which a two-vehicle collision at the site sent a car careering into the fence of Assumption School, just 30 minutes after students had started their lessons, prompted them to speak up and demand action.

They’ve since received a letter back from council confirming it will consider funding for the work in its 2017/18 budget.

In the letter, council informed the McNabs that previous concerns about the site related to driver confusion and traffic flow during peak traffic periods, rather than significant safety problems, adding the previously low number of recorded traffic incidents may in part have resulted from drivers exercising caution due to the unusual layout.

The letter said the intersection had been monitored over the past decade, and data supported the intersection as having sufficient history to meet funding application requirements for the Federal Black Spot program.

Council said it formally identified a number of options in 2013 for modifications at the intersection, but all options were considered cost-prohibitive due to the utility configurations underneath the road, and other locations were deemed to have a higher priority for action.

However, council said in light of the recent crash history, it would now consider funding for this work.

Mr McNab said he was relieved council was again looking at the intersection, and was hopeful something will be done to prevent a fatality.

“They’ve been talking about it since 2012, now it’s time to do something,” he said.

‘It’s common-sense. I’ve been talking to neighbours about it and people have been getting really inflamed about it. 

“Something needs to be done.

‘I’ve spoken to upwards of 50 people and if needs be we will come to a council meeting and explain our fears.

“It’s time for action.”

Councillor Warren Aubin said he understood people’s fears.

“It really needs doing,” he said, adding it would be a substantial job.

Given the fact Bathurst’s west was a growth area, the intersection would only get busier, he said.

“The intersection does need a revamp; I will be pushing for that in the next budget,” he said.

A spokesperson for Bathurst Regional Council confirmed changes to the eligibility criteria for Black Spot Funding suggest that funds could be made available for an upgrade to the area.

The spokesperson said the Federal Black Spot program is assessed on the benefits and cost ratios to provide a particular treatment. 

But if the costs outweigh the benefits, the project is rejected, which could happen in this case due to the number of utilities in the vicinity of the intersection.

However, the spokesperson said council engineers are looking at different treatments for the intersection. 

“There is still a commitment to address the situation,” they said.