Kingston residents came together on Monday evening to petition local government representatives for changes to the intersection where a mother and son were killed after Christmas in a collision with a heavy vehicle.
Jess West, 37, and her son Deighton, 5, were killed when a prime mover struck their 4WD at the intersection of Kingston Road and Church Parade on December 29.
Former Hepburn Shire mayor Cr Don Henderson, Cr Greg May and shire director of infrastructure and development services Bruce Lucas met with almost 50 Kingston residents to hear their concerns about the junction.
The intersection is controlled and maintained by Hepburn Shire. It is not controlled by Vic Roads.
The Kingston Road-Church Parade intersection is composed of a junction between the two main roads along with what council calls a 'slip lane' branching between the two. In addition, a service road running parallel to Kingston Road intersects with Church Parade.
Some of the issues raised by residents attending the meeting included: placement of road signs and the use of flashing warning lights; a failure by council to adequately maintain or complete tree lopping and pruning; too high a speed limit on the roads; the use of roads by vehicles over the size limit; the danger and outdatedness of the slip lane; and too high a speed used by motorists on the service road.
Cr Greg May said the tragedy had affected 'a great many people', not only in Kingston.
"I came down to have a look the other day; it tugs at your heartstrings," Cr May said.
"I think there was a little Superman down there and a couple of other things and I know I had a couple of tears, even though I didn't know them, but regardless, it's a young family torn apart and we don't want to see that happen again."
Bruce Lucas, whose sons were taught by Ms West, told the assembled group while he didn't have 'all the answers', he was happy to talk through options, saying the 'sad fact' was, following the deaths, the crash site qualified for Black Spot funding.
"Hepburn has worked really well with VicRoads and the state government to eradicate every Black Spot we've got," Mr Lucas said.
"When we have a fatality on a road managed by council, we would typically undertake an inspection in the days following, to check everything is as it should be. We did an inspection here on January 2 following the fatality; I don't believe we've received the formal police report yet. Obviously there will be a coroner's investigation; we'll look to get a copy of that when it's available."
Mr Lucas says council's initial findings, based on the reports of two engineers, was no fault could be found with the intersection "as it sits now".
"That's not to say it's ideal, not to say the signage is adequate," he said.
"The signage there is all clean, it can be seen readily; all the signs are facing the right way.
"But we believe there are a whole lot of options to make the intersection better than it is."
Mr Lucas said a roundabout, variation in line-marking and signage, and realignment were some of the options; however some 'major traffic control items' may require the approval of VicRoads, including the alteration of speed zones.
He said he was not convinced a roundabout, which would cost around $1.5 million, was the best 'treatment for the location'. However eradication of slip lanes generally was something council recommended. This suggestion met with general approval from the residents at the meeting.
The movement of heavy vehicles and farm machinery through the intersection needed to be considered, Mr Lucas warned, saying it was not not simply a matter of putting a grader through the lane and making a new junction.
Short-term solutions as expressed at the meeting were something which the council would do quickly, Mr Lucas told the assembled group.
Don Henderson said the shire had six-monthly meetings with VicRoads.
"Council lobbies Vicroads regularly; we met with them just before Christmas to talk about trouble spots," Mr Henderson said in response to questions.
"The last one we fixed was over on the Ullina Road; we got the funds to do that. It's federal funding, and we've made applications to do others."
Regional Roads Victoria regional director (Western) Michael Bailey said the RRV was happy to assess proposals from councils, but the key priority was ensuring any change would be safe for all road users.
"We will continue to work with Hepburn Shire Council on any preferred long-term solutions," Mr Bailey said.