Bad design forces truck drivers to break the law

BREAKING the law is the only option for truck drivers trying to negotiate the new roundabout at the intersection of Hillcrest Avenue and the Princes Highway.

Local transport company owners this week made public their concerns about the design of the roundabout, which forces them to take up two lanes.

They said it was impossible to drive a semitrailer through the roundabout without using both lanes.

Their voices have been heard by South Coast MP Shelley Hancock, who requested on Thursday that Roads and Maritime Services review the roundabout.

Ron Willett from Longfords Southern Delivery said he could understand if the idea behind the design was to slow traffic down but believed it had created a dangerous situation.

“The roundabouts in South Nowra are all pretty bad, but that roundabout at Hillcrest is the worst I have seen,” he said.

“At the entrance the way the gutter juts out into the road is a problem.

“I’ve tried three times to get through that roundabout without using both lanes. It is impossible.

“It means a truck has to drive down the middle of the lanes approaching the roundabout to stop the traffic behind it.

“With the amount of space they had to start with before they built it, it should have been designed so we don’t have to break the law to get around it. It’s a joke.

“For $62 million I’d have expected it to be a bit better than that,” he said.

Mr Willett said a steer-tyre for one of his trucks costs about $1500 and running over gutters, like many long vehicles, particularly buses, at roundabouts is a sure way to cause damage.

“It doesn’t take much to damage the sidewall of a tyre and by running over a gutter like that it ruins them. It also buggers up the steering and alignment.”

His father, Terry Willett, who has had the business for 27 years, said the problem appeared to be with the approach angle to the roundabout.

“The entrance into the roundabout is at an angle that forces large vehicles to take up both lanes.

“The three roundabouts on the highway north of the Shoalhaven River are great. You can even get a B-double around them and stay in your lane.

“I don’t know why they couldn’t have done the same thing at South Nowra.

Mrs Hancock asked the RMS to confirm the roundabout met all safety and design requirements.

“Safety has been of utmost importance in the design and construction of the $62 million duplication at South Nowra and today I have received assurances from Roads and Maritime Services that investigations are under way into the intersection at Hillcrest Avenue.”

An RMS spokesperson said if there were any inconsistencies from the Australian Road Design Guidelines they would be rectified.

“RMS is also reviewing the sight distance at this intersection to ensure it is in line with design guidelines following the recent installation of a new boundary fence.”

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