There has long been a movement among Buninyong 'locals' for a road to by-pass the Buninyong township and remove the requirement for many thousands of vehicles, including hundreds of heavy vehicles, each week from travelling on the single lane road through the centre of the township.
Townspeople have witnessed previous mayhem caused by vehicles driven through the roundabout (at Warrenheip Street and Learmonth Street.
At about 2.40 pm (with the school crossing activated at 2.30pm) on Friday 6th May, what has been described as a '70 tonne B-Double truck' entered the town, from the east, in Learmonth Street. One witness has stated it gathered speed from an estimated 45 km/h to an estimated 90km/h when its brakes apparently totally failed.
The driver, probably rightly, has been praised for taking the split-second decision to sound the horn and veer from the west-bound lane across to the on-coming east-bound lane, as there was a queue of vehicles stopped ahead of him an nothing approaching.
One vehicle was struck due to this manoeuvre, causing damage to the vehicle and injuries to the driver, but his warnings alerted several workers who managed to take evasive action.
We have seen the photographic evidence of the trail of destruction wrought by this incident; and it is far from the only such incident in recent times.
What if, as is an everyday occurrence shortly after that time, numbers of school children were crossing that intersection on their bicycles, or on foot in company with parents? What if they were on the school crossing?
We would now be bemoaning the fact that 1, 2, 3 or more people were dead - because nobody in a position to actually fix this long standing problem had bothered to do so. If there had been realistic attempts, bureaucratic buck-passing and blame gaming would ensure that we all knew about them.
On the 12th of April this year, at the same intersection, a truck somehow tipped over in Warrenheip Street, at the roundabout. Another 'There but for the grace of God' moment. One pedestrian; one car; one public transport user walking to the bus stop for the number 21 meaning at least one fatality.
That same bus shelter has been damaged and was separately and totally destroyed by separate vehicular incidents.
The also out-of-control bus that somehow managed to roll backwards from the same intersection onto the footpath and into the (luckily, at that time) vacant shop at the old Eagle Hotel. One pedestrian there and??
Another truck ran, out of control, straight across the top of the roundabout; and yet again, it was only to absolute good luck that nobody was killed.
The roundabout at Warrenheip and Learmonth Streets also creates dozens and dozens of 'rat-runners' every day - and particularly week days. People who travel to and from the direction of Ballarat via Sebastopol towards Mount Mercer and beyond simply turn (right) off the Midland Highway at Winter Street and run all the way to Webbs Hill Road, turn left and are away on the Mt. Mercer Road.
Especially dangerous are those who travel from the direction of Geelong towards Ballarat (via Mt. Clear, which numbers are now increasing due to the Sebastopol road works) in the afternoons. In cutting out the minor delay at the roundabout, they motor northwards up Inglis Street, past the Skate Park, children's playground and the publicly accessible tennis courts, to turn left at one of Palmerston, (usually) Barkly or Elizabeth Streets. This is very dangerous at any time because the intersection of Inglis and Forrest Streets is that through which almost every pedestrian and vehicle attending at the park, Swimming Pool, Men's Shed, Tennis Club or Football/Cricket/Netball Clubs travels. It is especially so on weekends and every week day afternoon, as there are (unsurprisingly) large numbers of quite young children in the precinct.
There is not so much as a speed hump to slow them. And because they go to all the trouble of saving a few miserable seconds in by-passing the roundabout they certainly seem disinclined to travel at or below 50 km/h.
The State Government has removed dozens of potentially dangerous level crossings. None could be potentially more dangerous than this roundabout.
Here is the absolute need to remove the necessity for thousands of vehicles and hundreds of heavy vehicles every week, travelling through Buninyong, by building a by-pass road - before people are killed - and in a year of elections, some political support for immediate action would be a good start.
No amount of traffic lights or warning signs will prevent runaway trucks ploughing through our main intersection; and be in no doubt - unless the town is by-passed, one day soon Buninyong's good luck will desert it and someone will die.
Greg Davies is a former Victoria Police Association Secretary and was Victoria's inaugural Victims of Crime Commissioner. He is also a former Officer in Charge of the Buninyong Police Station.
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