A 50-metre roundabout will be installed at the Gocup Road and Snowy Mountains Highway intersection in Tumut, according to a much-anticipated announcement from Regional Transport and Roads Minister Paul Toole on Friday morning.
Mr Toole asked the Centre for Road Safety to undertake a review and investigate various improvement options at the intersection, which ultimately determined a roundabout to be the solution moving forward.
The cost of the project is estimated to be between $10 and $15 million, with funding coming from the Safer Roads Fund.
“When you have a look at the number of crashes and near misses and fatalities that have occured here something needs to be done, so we’re not putting a price tag on it, we just want to make this road safer for locals and visitors alike that are going to use it,” Mr Toole said.
Other options investigated were traffic lights, closing Capper Street, raising the intersection, closing Gocup Road and moving the intersection.
The roundabout announcement comes after $1 million worth of safety improvements were installed at the intersection this year, which included warning signs, vehicle activated signs, rumble strips, reduction of vegetation and more.
It also follows a fatal crash in May this year at the intersection, which tragically claimed the lives of a pregnant woman and her ten-year-old child.
Mr Toole said that Transport for NSW is now moving into the design phase for the roundabout, which is estimated to take 12 months.
“We expect to have a concept design to share with the community later in the year and will then move as quickly as we can towards shovels in the ground,” Mr Toole said.
The Minister also said that Transport for NSW is planning to reduce the current 60km/h speed limit on Snowy Mountains Highway, between Rifle Range and East Street, and on Gocup Road, just south of Gilmore Creek, to 50km/h to slow down traffic and make the road and highway safer for all travellers.
Members of the community were advocating for a realignment of Gocup Road and shifting the intersection to an area roughly opposite the sale yards. When asked why this option wasn’t pursued, Mr Toole said that to move the road itself would “take a long time.”
“You have to acquire land, there would have to be compulsory acquisition, there would have to be environmental impact studies done, so that could be years in the making,” he said.
Similarly, when asked why traffic lights were not pursued, Mr Toole said “they weren’t going to be the best solution.”
Traffic lights were originally announced for the intersection in February 2019.
“The fact that I’ve come down here twice shows that I’ve actually committed to seeing something done here at this intersection,” Mr Toole said, when asked how he was going to make sure this project didn’t fall off the radar like the traffic lights did.
Mr Toole was joined by Wes Fang MLC and Member for Wagga Wagga Dr Joe McGirr at the intersection on Friday to make the announcement.
Also present was Mayor James Hayes and Cr Andrianna Benjamin, plus members of the community who have been vocal advocates for safety upgrades at the dangerous intersection.
Dr Joe McGirr took the time to thank the community for their “decades” of advocacy.
“2000 signatures in a few weeks from a community like this tells you the sort of passion that’s here,” he said.
He also thanked the Minister for the announcement, noting that in the Centre for Road Safety’s report, the Tumut intersection is listed in the top 2-3 per cent of intersections in the state for risk.
“We now know what the community has been saying for years is true,” Dr McGirr said.
“The community don’t want a band-aid solution, they want this fixed.”
Cr Hayes has been vocally supportive of a realignment to improve safety at the intersection.
“It’s probably not the outcome that we were looking for, but it’s an improvement,” he said, commenting that “you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”
“I was [hoping for the realignment] and the community worked pretty hard towards that.”
He said he was “not surprised at all” that there was a crash on Wednesday.
“It’s an alignment issue, you can look at it on site, it’s a very very difficult intersection to try and improve,” he said.
Ray “Dossie” Carr, a representative of the local traffic committee, echoed the mayor’s sentiments.
“As much as I appreciate the speed that things have progressed, and acknowledge especially the work Joe McGirr has done, I still feel that the government has failed to listen to the community, and our council,” Mr Carr said.
“I, like most people, argue that we need a realignment of Gocup Road to come out in the vicinity of the sale yards.
“To me, this is another bandaid fix – it’s going to be a very expensive fix – and we can’t afford that.”
Mr Carr said that for the $15m or so cost of the roundabout, a new road and intersection at the sale yards could be built.
“I can’t understand why government departments don’t listen to the community,” he said.
“You have to be grateful for some action, but I don’t think a roundabout is the solution, especially while-ever there is that dip on the Adelong Road heading towards the caravan park.”