Traffic lights are not the best option for the Mowbray connector, the state’s peak motoring body, Windermere MLC Ivan Dean and an alderman says.
In Monday’s budget estimates Mr Dean questioned why a roundabout, or overpass were not chosen for the design.
Infrastructure Minister Jeremy Rockliff said roundabouts needed even traffic flow from each direction. He suggested there was only heavy traffic flow on the highway, with less traffic from Mowbray.
But Mr Dean argued traffic turning towards George Town was “still fairly heavy”.
When speaking to The Examiner, Mr Dean said traffic lights were a bad choice.
“If you look at the safest junctions, it would be an over/under pass, roundabouts would be next, and traffic lights would be third. Traffic lights are well down the list as far as safety goes.”
Mr Dean said there were 13 sets of traffic lights for vehicles to pass within about two kilometres.
“That is just a nuisance in my view,” he said.
Mr Dean said the traffic lights were a “short-term fix”.
“They need a long-term fix and to go with the safer option,” he said. “The most economical way is not the best way to go.”
Crashes were also more serious at traffic lights, Mr Dean said.
“I don’t know of any crashes on a roundabout that has been serious. Roundabout crashes happen, but of course we have evidence of death at traffic lights.”
Royal Automobile Club of Tasmania membership and community executive general manager Stacey Pennicott welcomed the works announcement, but agreed traffic lights were not the best solution.
“The RACT has been advocating for improvements to the East Tamar Highway and Mowbray Connector intersection for some time and is pleased to see plans for improvements are progressing,” she said.
“However, we believe traffic lights are not the best solution from a road safety perspective and, if budget permitted, we would prefer an overpass or flyover at that location be considered.”
City of Launceston alderman Robin McKendrick said traffic lights were a backwards move and there was a nation-wide trend of experts moving away from traffic lights and into roundabouts.
“This is the lowest form of trying to control traffic. We were always promised a roundabout would be there,” he said.
When the government announced it would fix the connector, former infrastructure minister Rene Hidding said a roundabout was the “likely” fix.
Alderman McKendrick said he thought Launceston was being treated “second-rate”, and traffic lights were a “cheap fix”.
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