Tumut resident Michael Preinbergs is one of many locals advocating for major upgrades at the Gocup Road and Snowy Mountains Highway intersection.
Calls for upgrades to the dangerous intersection have been occurring for years, however a triple fatality involving a pregnant woman and her 10-year-old child last month has made these calls louder. The tragedy also prompted a campaign from Wagga Wagga MP Dr Joe McGirr who is calling on the state government to urgently provide additional safety measures for the intersection.
Mr Preinbergs, who has lived in Tumut for most of his life, has proposed a potential upgrade: realigning Gocup Road from around 250 metres south of the Gilmore Creek near the RMS Depot, extending it through the flat to reach a proposed roundabout near the Tumut Saleyards.
It’s an idea that has previously been championed by the mayor, James Hayes.
The proposed roundabout would have two lanes, allowing for trucks and heavy vehicle traffic to pass through.
With the new roundabout in place diverting traffic from the current intersection, Mr Preinbergs would also recommend closing off the entrance to Gocup Road.
“The current intersection would become a three-way intersection with Capper Street and the highway going straight through,” he explained.
Mr Preinbergs said the area where the new stretch of road would run is “good flat ground” and “should be fairly straightforward.” At around 650 metres, Mr Preinbergs said there would only be a few obstacles, such as a power line and crossing through the rail corridor, which hasn’t been operational for around 35 years.
Other minor works would still need to take place, including the removal of trees surrounding the intersection to allow for improved visibility as vehicles approach the intersection.
“The current Stop and Give Way signs create a lot of confusion,” Mr Preinbergs said. “Motorists are not sure what the people on the other side of the intersection are going to do, whether they’re going to turn across in front of them, and I think that’s where a lot of the near misses are happening.
“People hesitate, and they don’t know whether they’ve got the right of way or the other car does.”
While handing out copies of Dr McGirr’s petition this week, Mr Preinbergs said that residents have expressed concerns about the intersection and detailed their own near-miss incidents.
“Some of them said they avoid that intersection whenever they can,” he added.
Commenting on the upgrades that are taking place currently, which was planned before the recent fatal crash, Mr Preinbergs doesn’t believe these will make any real difference.
“We’ve got to move with the time,” he said, adding that if we only see bandaid solutions for the intersection, in another ten years it might still be as dangerous.
Mr Preinbergs used to work part time as a gravel truck driver with the RTA “in the early days.” He worked on the roads around Tumut and in the mountains. He said that his father even worked on the construction of the section of road from the Riverglade Caravan Park through to the now-infamous intersection.
Living here for most of his life, Mr Preinbergs has seen no changes to the roads, but a lot of changes to traffic patterns, particularly involving the increased presence of heavy vehicle traffic.
He met with the RMS yesterday (Thursday) to discuss the intersection and his ideas for it.
“I want to make sure I’m on the right track, and if I can offer any local knowledge [and] suggestions to help those people involved in making the decisions, working with them to hopefully make the right decision,” he said.
“My ideas may not be one hundred percent right, but we definitely need to get away from the current intersection and turn that into a three-way intersection.
“It may upset some business owners, but it’s human lives we’re talking about here.”
Mr Preinbergs wants to remind those concerned about the intersection to sign Dr McGirr’s petition. He also thanked Dr McGirr for all of his help and support.
Community members can download the petition from Dr McGirr’s website, however as per Parliament’s requirements, the petition must be printed and signatures handwritten.
Copies of the petition will be available at Snowy Valleys Council’s office and the office of the Tumut and Adelong Times. Completed petitions can also be dropped off at these locations or directly to Dr McGirr’s office in Wagga Wagga. Electronic copies of completed petitions cannot be accepted.
For further information visit or call Dr McGirr’s office on 6921 1622.