Ditherers, not deliverers: New delays for West Bathurst intersection upgrade

ROUND IN CIRCLES: Cr Alex Christian (centre) with roundabout campaigners Dianne and Kent McNab at the intersection of Mitre, Suttor and Lambert streets at West Bathurst. Photo: MURRAY NICHOLLS
ROUND IN CIRCLES: Cr Alex Christian (centre) with roundabout campaigners Dianne and Kent McNab at the intersection of Mitre, Suttor and Lambert streets at West Bathurst. Photo: MURRAY NICHOLLS

AN angry Councillor Alex Christian has labelled a number of his colleagues “ditherers” rather than “deliverers” after a proposal to upgrade Bathurst’s worst intersection was again delayed on Wednesday night.

It was widely anticipated that Bathurst Regional Council would finally end 21 years of inaction at the intersection of Mitre, Suttor and Lambert streets at West Bathurst by voting to fully fund the roundabout that has been recommended by council’s own engineers three times.

But that was until Cr Monica Morse proposed an amendment to the recommendation that would remove the word “roundabout” from the proposal and replace it with “improvements”, and called for a new report canvassing all traffic calming options for the intersection.

She cited a 1997 traffic report that recommended either a roundabout or traffic signals be installed at the intersection and said councillors should wait for more information before making a decision.

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“That traffic study does not say a roundabout, it’s says a roundabout or traffic signals depending on life-cycle costing,” Cr Morse said.

“If you actually go onto the internet it is quite interesting what it says about roundabouts. We’ve been told consistently that this is a safety issue but safety for whom – cars or pedestrians?

“Roundabouts in general are amongst the worst intersections for vehicle crashes each year [but] drivers generally like them because they reduce travel time. But what does this do for pedestrians?

“It places them at the bottom of the pecking order and places them at considerable risk.”

Cr Warren Aubin, the chairman of council’s traffic committee, agreed, saying a roundabout at the intersection would only make drivers go faster.

“We didn’t get black spot funding for the intersection because it’s not a black spot,” he said.

“I have to agree with Cr Morse that I don’t think a roundabout is the safest option because it’s a proven fact that roundabouts make cars go faster.

“As for the people who have signed this petition to get a roundabout to make the intersection safer – well, I’m sorry, but they’re wrong.”

But a fired-up Cr Christian said he could not believe councillors were proposing another delay in upgrading the intersection.

He pointed to the most recent engineers’ report on the intersection – tabled in April 2017 – that recommended a roundabout as the preferred option.

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“We can’t be fair dinkum,” he said.

“There have been three engineers’ reports in 20 years and every one has recommended a roundabout.

“I can’t believe we finally have an opportunity to get it done and we’re going to sit around talking about other options.

“Are we a bunch of ditherers or a bunch of deliverers?”

Cr Ian North, who lives 100 metres from the intersection, said he avoids it “like the plague” and while he saw merit in canvassing other options, he could not vote for any further delays.

In the end, only councillors Christian, North and Bobby Bourke voted against the proposal to look at other options before making a final decision.

However, the final vote did secure $1.7 million in council funding to allow work to begin as soon as a decision on the preferred option is made.