WILL it take a fatality before Stanhope Road, Stanhope, is made safe from the massive increase in traffic speeding to and from work in the upper Hunter coalfields?
This is the main question asked by 90 people who signed a petition seeking immediate action.
The signatories say Singleton Council, “as the manager and maintenance provider of this road that is unsafe” will be “negligent should someone be injured or killed”.
The man behind the petition, who has lived at Stanhope almost 70 years declined to be named, saying: “This is not about one person’s concerns, this is a serious safety matter that the whole community wants addressed.”
In the stretch between Stanhope fire station and the Elderslie Road intersection, a truck and three cars have rolled and two utilities have crashed into a bridge in the past 18 months, he said.
His petition went to Singleton Council and the state Member for Upper Hunter George Souris this month
Singleton mayor, Sue Moore, told The Argus yesterday that as a resident of Stanhope Road she was well aware of the concerns.
She would continue this week pushing for line-marking right along Stanhope Road and signs for concealed rural driveways plus approach the state government’s Roads and Maritime Services authority about a reduced speed limit and police about increased patrols.
Five Stanhope residents spoke to The Argus about the issue and the man behind the petition said everyone who signed it had had a near miss accident in peak times as industry workers were racing to and from work.
One resident said he knew miners who admitted regularly doing 140km/h in Stanhope’s 100km/h zone.
One woman said some impatient drivers won’t even allow her to turn into her property driveway without coming from behind and passing infront of her as she began to turn.
The five The Argus spoke to had all seen coalmine vehicles passing in extremely dangerous situations, including the crests of hills and curves and bends with limited visibility, not just on Stanhope Road, but all the way between Stanhope and Singleton.
The Stanhope man behind the petition raised the “extremely dangerous” situation with Singleton Council 18 months ago.
Contributing factors included traffic volumes, excessive speed, the winding and, at times, narrow roadway, some upper Hunter industrial workers being unfamiliar with the area, resident vehicles moving at slower speeds coming in and out of rural driveways and farmers occasionally moving stock and machinery on the road, he said.
The petition says residents, landowners and workers were having their lives and livelihoods put at risk by workers using backroads to get around New England Highway traffic congestion.
“We appreciate that the pressure on the road network is being caused by the resource boom and the demand for labour to travel from further afield to service this industry, but we believe that it is council’s responsibility as the manager and maintainer of the road to provide a safe community for the residents and the road users alike,” the petition says.
Residents have had enough and want the speed limit dropped to an 80km/h maximum, signs indicating concealed driveways and stock and farm machinery movements, line marking to prevent overtaking on bends, concealed driveways and intersections, plus more policing, the petition says.
Correspondence from the council to Mr Souris this month shows the latest reduced speed limit request would be sent to the Roads and Maritime Services authority, new traffic counts would be done on Stanhope Road, “appropriate” line marking would be done near curves, some driveway warning signs would be erected and a submission was being prepared for Roads and Maritime Services officers to consider reclassifying Stanhope Road as a regional road.
The documents show the council’s traffic committee was unaware of any accidents on Stanhope Road since June 2008 and its members believed the infrequent movement of stock did not warrant warning signs.
Cr Moore said: “I’ll be following this up this week, I think it needs line marking for the entire length.
“Roads and Maritime Services determine the speed limit, and while they’ve previously said ‘no’, they will be asked again to consider reducing it.
Police have also increased patrols.