Gap pedestrian crossing goes, Feds waive refund

UPDATE Wednesday, January 22, 1:45pm

 

An agreement has been struck with the Black Spot Program for there to be no requirement for the NT Government to pay back the cost of installing the crossing, and that it will fund the additional safety measures for this area, according to Geoff Horni, Director Road Planning, Department of Transport.

 

He says the current structure is being removed, and the speed limit has been reduced from 70 kmh to 60 kmh from the Tom Brown Roundabout to south of Commonage Road.

 

The works cost $430,000 and involved shared funding from the Federal Black Spot Program ($300,000) and the NT Minor Works Program ($130,000), Mr Horni says. But feedback from the broader Alice Springs community was that the crossing adversely affected some road users and assessment on its usage has indicated it is not being used appropriately.

 

Mr Horni says a number of safety measures have and are being implemented at the site. Improved street lighting is being designed for installation, highly conspicuous pedestrian signage has been installed and further road safety education of the local community will be undertaken.

 

PHOTOS: Work to remove the crossing has started. • Woman walks through the hole in the fence rather than using the crossing.

 

Yesterday’s report by ERWIN CHLANDA

 

The Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development will not be paying for the removal of the controversial pedestrian crossing at The Gap.

 

What’s more, if the Territory Department of Transport removes the crossing, it will have to return the Federal Government the Black Spot funding used to build the crossing in April last year, namely $266,521.

 

A spokesman for the Federal department says: “All Black Spot funding would need to be returned if the crossing is removed and no replacement safety works are undertaken – the NT Department of Transport has been informed of this requirement.

 

“If replacement safety works are installed the Department would consider a request from the NT Department for a variation of the approved works which may allow the Black Spot funding to be applied to revised works.

 

“Changes to the approved works at a Black Spot site are not uncommon in all jurisdictions and any such request by NT Transport would be considered in the normal way.”

 

Meanwhile the misuse of the crossing has become endemic and is apparently tolerated by the police while posing serious risks to pedestrians.

 

Many, though not all,  people from the Little Sisters camp, crossing the highway to get to the store and bottle shop on the eastern bank of the Todd, clearly prefer using a gap in the fence some 100 metres south of the official crossing.

 

Soon after the completion of the crossing a hole was cut in the fence. It was repaired but now the fence panel has been removed again.

 

The pedestrian warning signs are still in place, encouraging motorists to expect people to cross where they are meant to.

 

This means people using the gap in the fence, especially in the dark, are at grave risk.

 

The gap in the fence is directly opposite a floral memorial  indicating the place of a fatal accident.

 

The railings in the middle of the road have been removed, making the safety island much less effective for pedestrians.

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4 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Mark Wilson
    Posted January 25, 2014 at 8:28 am

    Another case of ‘Government knows best what you need’. I do wonder if anyone actually went to the town camp and asked people what would be the best solution to crossing the road more safely AND IF THEY WOULD USE IT. But that would mean leaving a planning committee and design desk. Of course, such a question would rarely get a truthful answer, so observing behaviours of people over several days would be the best option. Again, leave the office.
    Finally this has given me a laugh. Seems the ‘Black Spot’ was in the wrong black spot! If it was in the correct spot a fence would not have been necessary at all! For goodness sake, people need to take personal responsibility when crossing a railway and highway. It isn’t a school zone! The Nanny State cannot stop people from sleeping on the railway line or walking under a road-train however hard they try and however much we pay. To spend this sort of money to get a trolley of grog from the take-away, or a wheel chair across a railway into the busy roadway is sheer lunacy. It’s the Nanny State on steroids.

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  2. Jocelyn Davies
    Posted January 24, 2014 at 9:33 am

    I was a critic of the crossing: when on my bicycle riding through there, I found it really scary to have no escape path from cars or trucks passing by. I also saw many people crossing the road, and not using the crossing. But that changed.
    As I saw people using the crossing, I wondered why they were doing that – it seemed a much less direct route.
    I concluded it was because getting up and down the side of the railway line, over a steep bank, on loose gravel, would be quite tricky, especially if you don’t walk so well anymore, or if you’ve got a baby, or a stroller, if you are on crutches maybe.
    Now the crossing is closed down and being dismantled, and people are again crossing the steep gravel banks.
    It doesn’t affect me directly. I’ve never crossed the railway line there, and if I ever did, it would be once-off, maybe on Show Day, not everyday life.
    Even when I pass through on the road, mostly it’s in a car. The risk the crossing had for cyclists was occasional for me personally, not every day.
    So the crossing is become a piece of public art, ephemeral, as art installations are.
    It references those policy detours where governments tell Aboriginal mob ‘you’ve got to change how you do things, what you do isn’t right, it’s not safe, we’ll help you, we know what we’re doing, we know about these things’.
    And those on the receiving end, at least some of them, see a different way, and they do change and others start to see the advantages of changing. But the policy is found to be unsustainable, with unintended consequences, and is abandoned, still with no way out on whatever the problem was in the first place, and invariably with more cost to the public purse and a bit of intergovernmental wrangling for good measure.
    It doesn’t affect most of us directly. But how much of this public art do we really need, how much can we afford, and shouldn’t there be some planning with people affected, not just ‘for’ them?

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  3. Ray
    Posted January 22, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    How could it come to this, anybody you spoke to who lives here said it was a stupid and dangerous design. More Lighting, 60k limit, signage for drivers. Easier, cheaper, safer.

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  4. Richard Bentley
    Posted January 22, 2014 at 4:57 am

    Slow the traffic to 50kph. Surely least cost means of improving safety.

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