“IT’S too late, big trucks should never have been allowed in Kelso Street, they should be banned.”
So said Renshaw Avenue resident of 43 years, Geraldine Howlett , as she watched Singleton Council workers replace old stop signs at the site of this week’s tragic school bus and truck accident, the corner of Kelso and Church streets.
Numerous Singleton residents described the corner this week as dangerous and criticised the council for turning a blind eye to it and failing to make Kelso Street safer than the narrow, traffic shortcut it has been for years.
Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) officials issued a media statement this week saying the council had not requested black spot funding for the location in the past five years and it was not included in a council and RMS black spot review in 2010.
The council’s assistant manager Gary Thomson responded by saying the intersection had not met RMS Black Spot criteria, Kelso Street had no truck weight limit and any attempt to restrict trucks using it would require a council resolution to reverse a 2010 resolution.
On Wednesday morning, council workers replaced four stop signs with new ones, almost twice the size of the originals.
The work was done within 40 hours of nine-year-old Harry Dunn being killed, and seven other children, including his seven-year-old brother Luke, being injured.
“The council has been talking about upgrading Kelso Street for 40 years, they’ve been warned time and again it’s a dangerous black spot and within 48 hours of an absolutely horrendous accident they come and change the stop signs – it’s an insult,” Mrs Howlett said.
“There have been near misses at the intersection almost every single day since the traffic really began to increase three years ago and now this dear little boy will never achieve his potential in life.
“Many South Singleton residents often hold their breath coming through that intersection and they’re all of the same mind, the trucks should be stopped”.
Mr Thomson said: “It may be the public perception that it’s a black spot, because of the near misses, but it’s not a black spot as far as the council or the RMS assess it.
“There has been talk of widening Kelso Street, but that has been in the too hard basket for 38 years.
“Although, in the last two years the council has been pro-active, taking a strategic approach and negotiating with property owners so the street can be widened and that will continue with the aim of having the work well underway within 18 months.”
Mr Thomson said widening Kelso Street was a complicated matter as agreements had to be reached with 13 land owners and electricity, water and sewage services had to be moved.
“The stop signs were standard signs but because of the tragic circumstances this week we’ve decided to put in bigger ones that are clearer and more visible even though the old ones were adequate and visible,” Mr Thomson said.