SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT: Emerald locals, including Michael Gaskin, are calling for speed limit reductions on Opal St .
SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT: Emerald locals, including Michael Gaskin, are calling for speed limit reductions on Opal St . Contributed

Emerald residents call for speed reductions on busy road

SPEED reductions may be considered as part of a review taking place in the precinct around Emerald Aquatic Centre, as calls are made for the creation of 40km/h zones to improve safety in the busy area.

The review of the zone, where the current speed limit is 60km/h, is due to be finalised and submitted to Central Highlands Regional Council over the next month.

Mayor Kerry Hayes said the area had "high usage”, with activities and clubs catering for swimming, tennis, scouts, golf and netball.

"Opal St has always been considered an arterial road and while most residential streets are 50km/h, the arterial roads are 60km/h,” he said.

Cr Hayes said 5500 vehicles a day used Opal St, "so it's a significant arterial road to northern residential areas and agricultural businesses and council infrastructure”.

He said a general review of the traffic precinct, which included consultation with the Department of Transport and Main Roads, police, engineers and the council, was expected to be finalised over the next few weeks.

"We made a traffic island adjacent to the pool to narrow the through traffic,” Cr Hayes said.

"The aquatic centre has expanded quite rapidly and it's now a bigger attraction than it was and certainly, with the climate we have, it has a high usage.”

He said speed limits would be looked into as part of the review and the council had consulted with representatives from the pool, swimming club and other facilities as well as bus companies that accessed the precinct during school hours and for swimming carnivals.

"The review now is around the amount of use that is currently there,” he said.

Cr Hayes wanted to react to the calls for speed reductions "immediately and responsibly”.

"Safety is the first and uppermost priority and consideration and it's a timely review because of the high usage in the major sporting precinct,” he said.

Emerald Aquatic Centre lessee Dave Greaves said the council was giving him regular updates on their progress and plans.

"It's extremely important to reduce the speed - even though it's 60km/h there's a lot of cars that go a lot faster and of an afternoon we've got mums and dads and kids going backwards and forwards across that road all the time,” he said.

Mr Greaves said weekends in particular were very busy, as were peak daily times from 3.30-5.30pm, and he was "absolutely” worried about safety.

"We at least need two speed bumps to slow drivers down because they absolutely fly through here,” he said.

"Ideally I'd like to see reduced speed and speed bumps as even if you reduce it to 40km/h there's still people who speed anyway.

"We need anything that's going to protect the lives of these families walking backwards and forwards across the road.”

Mr Greaves referred to an incident last year in which a boy was hit by a car and received a serious leg injury.

"We've only had the one accident but we've had quite a few near-misses but near-misses are not recorded,” he said.

"They've got to put something in place which is permanent and that reduces the speed limit. Safety is paramount.”

Emerald Seals Swimming Club president and community member Michael Gaskin said he supported an introduction of speed reductions.

"I think it should be a shared zone with speed restrictions, a couple of speed humps and a designated pedestrian crossing,” he said.

He said he would back a 40km/h speed limit, like in school zones.

"This area is used pretty much on all days and weekends when sporting functions are on.

"We've got a lot of families sharing and utilising that area for all the different sports that are catered for, and a lot of young children needing to cross the road in either direction.

"I'm not sure of daily figures but on Tuesdays we have club nights and we swim at least 110 swimmers from under 7s to open senior swimmers.”

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