No safe crossing

Running the gauntlet: St Ambrose Primary community wants to see three dangerous pedestrian points in the school precinct addressed.

St Ambrose Parish Primary’s community doesn’t want to see a disastrous traffic accident resulting from a lack of safe pedestrian access in the school precinct.

The Woodend school is one of the only ones in the district without school crossings and the school community wants action.

More than 150 parents lodged concerns with the council outlining the need to address three dangerous pedestrian points in the school precinct earlier this year.

School parent Mike Boudrie said an increase in traffic around the school made pick-up and drop-off times a nightmare.

“The street has become a thoroughfare for those trying to avoid the main street and get around,” he said.

“There is currently no crossing and no warning signs. The council seems to be dragging its feet.

“I feel like it’s a matter of time before someone gets seriously injured.”

The school had a small win in Macedon Ranges Council’s 2021/22 budget with works approved for a wombat crossing at Brooke Street.

However, council’s director of assets and operations Shane Walden said plans had since changed.

“During the Brooke Street design phase, the consultant advised against a wombat crossing at this intersection due to the proximity of the crest in the street,” he said.

“This solution would not meet current Australian standards as there is not enough sight distance for vehicles to react in time to slow and see the wombat crossing.

“For this reason, the traffic consultant recommended a slow point right before the crest to provide enough reaction time for cars to slow down at the crossing point.”

As part of the Brooke Street works, the consultant’s recommendation was to reduce the speed limit to 50km/h, which is now a request pending with Regional Roads Victoria.

Mr Walden said the council was also discussing a crossing in Urquhart Street with the school and TAC. The work within Urquhart Street is dependent on the TAC grant application.

School principal Bronwyn Phillips said the proposed changes “would be a start” but there were multiple concerns to be addressed.

“The proposed changes address one problem area. There are at least two other problem areas, and we need signage,” she said.

“We have reported several close incidents involving children crossing on foot or on bikes in front of oncoming traffic as well as cars swerving or braking suddenly to avoid hitting children crossing.

“We are concerned about our children as well as the Woodend Primary children’s safety when going to and from school via Templeton Street particularly when crossing over Brooke, Urquhart and Anslow streets.”

Mr Boudrie said the council had been in the process of addressing crossing points at the school for several years with no result. He said the new proposal provided no real solution.

“The new design represents MRSC bureaucracy and lack of foresight resulting in a tick box exercise rather than providing a practical solution for community safety,” he said.

New design plans for Brooke Street are still being finalised. The council aims to tender the works before Christmas to engage a contractor to start in the New Year.