No fix for Warburton Hwy, Seville East

Reading a Newspaper

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

By Anthony Piovesan

Collisions and near misses continue to be frightening daily occurrences on a dangerous stretch of Warburton Highway in Seville East.

VicRoads says investigations into improving the section of highway between Peters and Douthie roads are continuing following a shocking fatality in April.

The Lilydale & Yarra Valley Leader previously reported schoolchildren had no option but to dash across four lanes of traffic in an 90km/h zone to catch their school bus.

While no designated turning lanes directing traffic into Peters Rd, Stuart St, Sunnyside Rd, Douthie Rd, Joyce Rd and Old Warburton Highway were also sparking safety fears, the Leader also revealed.

Seville East CFA third lieutenant Robert Groiss said emergency services are responding to incidents at the notorious section of highway every day.

“I work on this highway and every day, from minor scratches to people being rear-ended or sideswiped, we are out here responding to incidents — and these don’t include the near misses no one else hears about,” he said.

“That part of the highway hasn’t changed in decades — safety upgrades are long overdue.”

Lieutenant Groiss was on duty on the morning of April 4 when a 54-year-old man tragically died in a three-car crash on Warburton Highway, near Joyce Rd.

“It was right outside a school bus stop and at that time of morning all the school kids were coming out — I just wanted to clear that area because they were about to confront a scene no child should confront,” he said.

There have been nine serious crashes on Warburton Highway between Peters and Douthie roads from January, 2014 to May, 2019.

Lilydale Heights College Year 9 student Maya Hindle told the Leader she experienced “plenty” of near misses while attempting to cross Warburton Highway.

“We’ve been honked at, have had to stand and wait in the middle of the road where there isn’t much space and have had to run really fast to get across,” she said.

“I’ve got my little sister with me as well and we have to rely on all these cars suddenly stopping, then the traffic stopping behind them and sometimes you can’t see the cars coming from the other side of the hill — it’s really scary.”

Seville East parent Claire Knowles said the community would not stop voicing their concerns until the highway is fixed.

“The general mood on that road is frustration and urgency,” she said.

“I would never forgive myself if something happened to my child at this highway, so I and the community are putting what we’ve got into this.”

VicRoads spokeswoman Lauren Hilbert said crews were working on a number of design options to improve safety on the stretch of highway, particularly at the Sunnyside Rd intersection.

Jordy Jeffrey-Bailey, a spokesman for Roads and Road Safety Minister Jaala Pulford, said any safety upgrades on Warburton Highway would hinge off the VicRoads investigation.

“Keeping people safe on our roads is our top priority, that’s why we’re investigating a number of options to make this section of the Warburton Highway safer for everyone,” he said.