Fatality feeds frustration

The most recent Barton Highway accident has sparked outcry from motorists in the community fed up waiting for the highway to be upgraded to a dual carriageway.

A $500 million proposal to duplicate 33 kilometres of road from the Hume Highway at Yass to the existing dual carriageway at the ACT border, bypassing Murrumbateman, has laid stagnant for decades because of a lack of funding commitment from the federal government.

Lobby group, South East Australian Transport Strategy (SEATS), estimates traffic volumes at 10,600 each day, with heavy vehicles making up more than 10 per cent of the total.

It said the AusLink national network rated the road as the worst highway in NSW for safety in 2007.

Yass Valley Mayor Rowena Abbey said the Barton issue was a constant problem. The government had spent a "little bit of money straightening the curves" but that it was not enough to stop the accidents.

"It's a continuing frustration and nobody is committing to fund this," she told the Tribune.

"It has to be fixed, it doesn't matter which government [does it].

"There is a disastrous rate of accidents and deaths on this road. Both governments to date have chosen to ignore this road."

Tribune readers have suggested the installation of point-to-point speed cameras at each end of the Barton in the interim, to slow motorists down.

Motoring lobby group NRMA regional director Alan Evans said the highway was of particular concern with heavy traffic flows and predictions of traffic growth. He said speed cameras could be effective up to a point, but building better engineered roads or at least installing traffic dividers, were the best options.

"Building safer roads is the best contributing factor to reducing the road toll," he told the Tribune.

"You can take the bad curves out, and in that new section they did remove the worst curves, but it still doesn't eliminate the problem... we've still got to look at traffic separation as much as you can."

While Europe and North America built many five-star roads, Australia's best road was rated only four-star, and it was the country's only one.

"We will continue to see head-on crashes on the Barton Highway [as long as it remains undivided]." He suggested wire rope barriers down the centre and widening of corners.

"Dividers reduce fatalities and head-on crashes by about 90 per cent."

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