East Tamar Highway works needed to save lives

There would not be a driver in Launceston who has not felt unease in the pit of their stomach while attempting to cross the East Tamar Highway at the Mowbray Connector.

For many the feeling about the site is even stronger, with numerous crashes causing injuries and even death in recent years.

The move by the state government to commit $7 million to fixing one of Northern Tasmania’s major road safety and traffic hazards is to be applauded.

While community members and the council have been calling on a solution for years, it is time to look towards the future and make this fix one that sticks.

There is no excuse to have such a busy and dangerous intersection in Tasmania.

Infrastructure Minister Rene Hidding said that while reducing serious crashes was the government’s major objective, in line with its Towards Zero goal of no deaths or serious injuries on Tasmanian roads, the upgrade should also improve traffic flow.

“The danger comes from the requirement for road users turning right to cross the southbound, two-lane carriageway, and although the speed limit has previously been reduced to 80km/h, traffic delays can increase the likelihood of motorists taking risks,” he said.

“This can result in side impact crashes, which can be very severe. The queue for right-hand turning vehicles is also forecast to grow as traffic increases, and this will add to the potential for rear-end collisions.”

Just up the road commuters face an area still in need of safety improvements – the Newnham connector.

Last year Launceston alderman Robin McKendrick said there had been more than 20 crashes at the two connectors between 2004 and 2014.

In February City of Launceston general manager Robert Dobrzynski said action was recently taken when the Department of State Growth implemented a ban on right-hand-turn vehicles from University Way onto the East Tamar Highway after a safety assessment in 2016.

But is this enough? If traffic increases along the road are forecast, along with aims to grow the city and its population, surely more safety measures are needed. 

Responses to The Examiner’s recent online survey showed that 72 per cent of people believe the highway section needs multiple roundabouts.

Must yet another person lose their life for more money to be spent?