Couple demand council remove traffic refuge outside their home

A Beverly Hills couple in their 80s have complained to the NSW Ombudsman after Georges River Council installed a pedestrian refuge outside their home without consulting them.

William and Joan McGrath say the installation of the pedestrian refuge means they have lost all their parking space out their home in Pallamana Parade and have to cross double lines to get into their driveway.

Their daughter, Jill Wilson, has taken up the matter on their behalf and is calling on Georges River Council to remove two pedestrian refuges, one outside her parents home and the ohter on the other side of Pallamana Parade which leads into a five-way intersection.

The concept design was approved prior to council amalgamation but funding did not come through until after the amalgamation and proper consultation with resdients did not take place, Mrs Wilson said.

“The council has acknowledged they made a mistake as they thought the consultation had already taken place when no consultation had taken place,” she said.

“Following the council amalgamation in May, 2016 the project was funded as part of the council’s 2017-18 budget.

“But due to the delay between approval (prior to amalgmation) and funding, current staff were unaware that the project had not undergone proper consultation when the concept design was initially approved by the traffic committee in 2015.”

Mrs Wilson said the total installation of the refuge outside her parents home at Pallamana Parade contravenes Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) design guidelines as it is on a road that is only 8.7m wide.

“Cars cannot park across from the double centred lines associated with this refuge as it would not have the legal three-metre buffer from these double lines,” she said.

“These structures are not appropriate for this narrow street. My parents are in their late 80s. No-one can park outside their house. They have to walk further to get to their home.”

A Georges River Council spokesperson said the former Hurstville Traffic Committee, in  conjunction with the Roads and Maritime Services approved the concept design of the pedestrian refuges in August 2015.

“After construction of the refuge Islands, Mrs Wilson’s father Mr McGrath, wrote to Council with concerns that the “No Stopping” zones associated with the refuge islands outside his home were excessive,” the spokesperson said.

“In March 2018 Council reviewed the location of the signs outside Mr McGrath’s property and reduced the No Stopping zones to provide additional parking adjacent to his property.”

The council spokesperson stated, “Importantly, young school children have been observed to utilise the pedestrian refuges at that location.”

Mrs Wilson said the council had only conducted a half-hour pedestrian county on Jun 4, 2018, the day before the Traffic Committee meeting, between 3pm and 3.30pm, nearly four months after the refuges were installed.

“Only five students, some with parents, were observed,” she said.

Mrs Wilson said she condctged a survey a week later during the same time but extended it to over an hour.

“There were seven in total includng only one child with there mother,” she said.

She said that residents have been asking for years for a roundabout at the five-way intersection.

“The last request for a roundabout in August 2015 which was refused by the traffic committee,” she said.

“The roundabout was still on Georges River Council’s Section 94 contributions plan in 2017 with an estimated cost of $350,000 but no funding was available,” she said.

“But roundabout is needed because there are three sets of stop signs at the intersection  which causes confusion. There is also two blind spots associated with this intersection, plus elderly residents fear cars will come through their lounge rooms due to reckless behaviour of burnouts within the intersecdtion.

“It is just a simpler option to have a roundabout. There have been no incidents of pedestrian accidents but there have been numerous vehicle accidents, even since the refugues were installed.”

The council spokesperson said that following the original request for a roundabout, the council completed a detailed traffic survey as part of the initial investigation into a traffic management treatment for the intersection of Tallawalla Street, Kirrang Street, and Pallamana Parade.

Mrs Wilson said that the only traffic survey was conducted in 2013 and it did not include a pedestrian country survey and infrastrucutre has been built up.

“Infrastructure has been built up along Vanessa Street since then,” she said. “Workers use Pallamana Parade to get on and off the M5. Beeping of horns are heard especially in the afternoon period which startled an elderly resident causing her to fall.”

Mrs Wilson added, “ Council have installed these ‘road calming devices’, as described in the Georges River Council Budget’s, Operational Plan 2017-18 in preference over a roundabout through tax payers’ funds. It was a significantly cheaper option and it assisted in getting rid of the blacklog projects.”