News / Road safety

Council says no to safety barrier at dangerous intersection

But a new pedestrian crossing is likely to created to improve safety at the Nicholson-Albion street bend

Albion Street residents at the dangerous bend earlier this year. The site of the proposed new pedestrian crossing is in the top left corner.

Mark Phillips
Friday, September 10, 2021

MORELAND Council has ruled out reinstating a metal safety barrier at a dangerous stretch of road in Brunswick East that has been the site of dozens of car accidents.

Restoring the guard rail, which was removed about five years ago, could make the section of road where Nicholson and Albion streets converge even more dangerous, this week’s council meeting was told.

The intersection is considered one of the most hazardous in Brunswick because of a tight curve and a propensity for motorists to approach it too fast, particularly when the road is wet.

Local residents have recorded more than 60 incidents in a little over five years where motorists have crashed into other cars or property within the notorious stretch of road along Albion Street.

The incidents, which include cars colliding with each other, with trees or signs, or smashing into fences, have all occurred in an area less than 700 metres in length.

Following concerted community campaigning over recent years, there have been some improvements made including a reduced speed limit from 60kmh to 40kmh, and additional road markings and signage.

Residents’ concerns were again taken up by the council and Brunswick MP Tim Read after the front fence of the same house was hit by cars twice within three weeks in March.

This resulted in Mayor Annalivia Carli Hannan and two senior council staff meeting with an adviser to the office of Roads Minister Ben Carroll and an executive director from the Department of Transport in July to raise residents’ concerns and discuss options for improving safety on the corner.

The council delegation came away from the meeting with no firm commitments or timelines other than to continue “working through the issues and options to improve safety”.

Because the road is controlled by the state government, there is little the council can do other than continue to advocate for safety measures including speed humps, a possible conversion to a t-intersection, moving the Brunswick East Primary School pedestrian crossing to a different position and installing a second crossing near Jones Park.

But the council meeting on Wednesday night was told a new safety barrier would not be among the options going forward as it could increase the risk at the corner.

The owner of a property that has been impacted eight times by crashes at the corner told Brunswick Voice earlier this year that the barrier had been effective in protecting properties until it was removed in 2016 after it was damaged so badly it blocked the footpath.

The damaged safety barrier after an accident in 2014. It was removed the following year.

But a report prepared for Wednesday’s meeting City Futures Director Kirsten Coster said the presence of power poles, driveways and trees meant there was insufficient space to install a guard rail properly and safely.

“Even if a guard rail could be installed here, it is unlikely that the guard rail will protect pedestrians as the guard rail itself will deflect and endanger pedestrians walking immediately behind it, particularly given the very narrow clearance between the footpath and nature strip in which the guard rail was installed,” the report said.

“This may increase the likelihood of injury to a pedestrian as the struck guard rail could potentially trap a pedestrian.”

Council staff said it would also be impractical to ban trucks from the stretch of road, given it is an arterial road which is also used by buses and there was no evidence of heavy vehicles being involved in crashes.

However, council staff do believe there is merit in placing a new pedestrian crossing at the eastern end of Albion Street beyond the turnoff into Nicholson Street.

Nicole Kearney, owner of the house in Albion Street which has been struck eight times in six years, welcomed the commitment to a new pedestrian crossing.

“I think that’s really, really critical for the safety of kids who come straight down the path [through Jones Park] and cross there all the time and that path leads directly to the school crossing as well,” she said.

“Having a safe crossing is really important because I would hate to see a kid hit by a car.”

Ms Kearney said she accepted that the safety barrier would not be restored but still believed there should be restrictions on heavy trucks in the area.

“Trucks are always driving on the footpath when they go around the corner because it’s not wide enough,” she said.

“You can see the edges of the footpaths are quite damaged.”

The bend continues to the be the scene of road accidents. Several weeks ago, a motorcyclist came off their bike going through the bend too fast but was not seriously injured.

Related story:

Enough is enough: residents demand action on notorious road