By Brendan Rees
Pakenham’s most notorious traffic hotspot – the roundabout at Bald Hill Road and Racecourse Road – may have traffic signals installed if Cardinia Shire Council has its way.
Cardinia Shire Mayor Cr Collin Ross said a proposal to build a signalised intersection had been lodged with the Victorian Government for funding consideration.
“Signalising this intersection will reduce delays, and provide more reliable traffic times and safer and easier crossings for pedestrians,” Cr Ross said.
“Council has been working in partnership with VicRoads to design an intersection and road layout to manage the increasing traffic flows and improve access arrangements in the Bald Hill and Racecourse Road precinct.”
Cr Ross said the upgrade would allow for easier access to the freeway for adjoining businesses in the Bald Hill Road precinct.
“Currently, traffic queues on the southern approach to the intersection extend for over one kilometre on to the freeway exit ramps and into the through lanes of the freeway,” he said.
The upgrade, he added, had been identified as an advocacy priority for council leading into November’s state election.
Opposition leader Matthew Guy met with traders at the site on Tuesday, 13 March. Mr Guy said the roundabout would be removed if the Liberals were elected in November.
“At Bald Hill and Racecourse Road you have traffic backed up for miles – emergency services can’t get through, traders can’t get in and out of their businesses,” he said.
Member for Bass Brian Paynter also spoke to frustrated traders at the site.
When asked what the ideal solution would be Mr Paynter said: “We’ll be getting engineering advice to determine exactly the best way to remove it so whether it’s under or over, the intersection will be removed.”
Traders who use the roads close to the intersection say they’ve had enough with the traffic congestion – with some experiencing a loss in clients.
“I’ve got customers who won’t even come to us after three o’clock because they can’t get out of here,” says branch manager of Tradelink Pakenham Trent Wilson. “They’ll ring for enquiries but they won’t drop in.”
Pakenham Pumps manager Paul Arnold said: “It only takes a hiccup either way and the whole thing’s a mess,” he said.
“It certainly turns away customers because you get people ringing you saying ‘It’s four o’clock I’m not coming in.’ You’ve got to hope they come back.”
Mowers and Chainsaws store in Pakenham assistant manager Luke Skinner said his staff had resorted to driving scooters into the town centre “just so they can weave through the traffic.”
Hermine Toth, who is the co-owner of Glenmac Sales and Service also said traffic affected everyone. “Nobody can avoid it; it’s a way of life.”
Minister for Roads Luke Donnellan said “We’ve asked VicRoads to look into possible solutions to ease congestion at this busy roundabout.”