Complaint to the RTA for their hypocritical "Heathcote" solution

The Princes Hwy, the major road from Sydney, down the south coast of Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, ranges from suburban roads to freeways, and understandably, the speed limit along this road varies according to conditions.

Through most of the suburban sections, this multi-lane road is around 70KM/h, which is quite reasonable. Unfortunately, however, right at the edge of the suburban road system – right where the road transitions to and from 100KM/h – the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) has decided to arbitrarily reduce the speed limit of this major road down to that of a side street, limiting the speed to 50Km/h.

This speed reduction – from its previous limit of 70KM/h – was instituted after the tragic death of Tim Deane in July 2006 after he crossed this busy highway against the lights. Suburbs to the north and south, Engadine and Waterfall, each have pedestrian under/over passes (respectively), but Heathcote does not.

Unfortunately, though, the focus of the RTA has been around positioning camera equipped highway patrol cars and collecting a lot of revenue from motorists, who have to halve their speed – coming into the city – in a few hundred metres.

But the thing that angers me the most – and if you drive this road regularly, it should piss you off too – is that the RTA is happy to unjustifiably drop the speed limit and organise some very lucrative enforcement, but they can’t be bothered to put up fences – that physically discourages the kind of J-walking that has caused pedestrian deaths – along the median strip that separates the train station from the park. If our government and its agencies really cared about pedestrian safety, they’d have a fence put along the line shown in red on the map below, instead of just dropping the speed and raking in the money through cameras and fines.

Princes Hwy at Heathcote - the missing safey fence

If you think this situation is just rotten, money grabbing and immoral behaviour from an agency that professes to act in the interests of road safety, yet missing out on some of the lowest impact and high value actions like putting up a fence, tell the RTA what you think by making a complaint. The complaint I made tonight is included below: perhaps if we draw some public attention to this situation, we might stand a chance of getting this immoral situation corrected.

I would like to make a formal complaint about the conduct of the RTA with relation to the speed limit changes introduced some time ago on the only arterial road connecting Wollongong and Sydney, specifically at Heathcote.

After the tragic death of a pedestrian around this intersection some time ago, a knee-jerk decision was made to reduce the speed – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – down to 50km/h. This is a 4 to 6 lane highway that links Sydney to the entire south coast.

The Police and the RTA have managed to create quite a strong revenue earner by putting regular police and radar patrols, however, it is very clear the RTA is completely disinterested in safety: while inconveniencing hundreds of thousands of motorists a year, the RTA has taken no steps to protect pedestrians, as there is no fence discouraging pedestrians from crossing south of the lights, between the station and the park.

This hypocrisy is an abomination, and is the source of a LOT of frustration, disdain and disrespect for the RTA’s policies, and leads many people to reject the legitimacy & authority of your agency.

4 thoughts on “Complaint to the RTA for their hypocritical "Heathcote" solution

  1. Geoff,

    It might surprise you to know that the comment “hundreds of thousands of motorists a year” is an understatement.

    This section of road carries in the order of 40,000 vehicles a day in each direction (though this is the counter north of Heathcote road, they stopped counting near Short St in 1996 at around 30,000 vehicles).

    Keep fighting that good fight mate.

    p.s. Let me know when in the Sydney cbd around beer o’clock next time.

  2. dont even get me started about our roads.. i have been to third-world countries with better roads.

    we have all these motorways that cost a fortune to use, and that have been built on the assumption that 4-lanes merging into 2-lanes works well (think m5, m4, m7, m2). even my 6 year nephew knows it will cause a bottle-neck.

  3. Pingback: Minister McLeay screws his Illawarra constituents - looking out from down under

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