Community News

Just get on with it


I refer to Councillor Andrew Baker’s letter (CVI 4/3/20) “The making of a council decision roundabout versus traffic lights”.

Cr Baker claims that a roundabout will give off “5,948 tonnes more harmful greenhouse gases (co2-equivalent) than will be produced by installation and 50-year operation of 2 sets of traffic lights”.  WOW what a claim! Does he honestly think that two sets of traffic lights using fossil fuel generated electricity 24/7, 365 days and nights, will be better than two roundabouts with aesthetically landscaped gardens in the centre, that will actually absorb greenhouse gases, not produce them?  He has not produced any scientific evidence to support his claim. If Council adopted this policy they could never build another roundabout in the Clarence Valley, and any intersection that required upgrading would have to be traffic lights. Between about 9pm to 6am there is virtually no traffic in Yamba, so traffic lights burning electricity, when there is no traffic to control, would be environmentally irresponsible.

Cr Baker also stated that “The 2 Yamba roundabouts decision, Treelands Drive & Carrs Drive, will cost $4.71 million more than would 2 sets of traffic lights. $6.07m vs $1.36m”. Another WOW what a claim! None of these figures have been accurately costed to date. Does Council honestly think that small single lane roundabouts cost around $3m each?  This Treelands Drive/Yamba Road roundabout costing has gone from around $174,000 up to $3.5m before the Extraordinary Meeting held on 4 September 2018. The latest estimate was somewhere around $2.7m. 

I have recently read that Goulburn ratepayers were up in arms about a roundabout cost blowout that went from $350,000 to $450,000 in March 2018.  Similarly, a roundabout in Orange commenced construction in January 2020 at a cost of $650,000. Those seem like more realistic price tags for small single lane roundabouts. Maybe roundabouts just cost a lot more in Yamba?

Now Cr Baker also has concerns over safety, stating “Pedestrian and assisted mobility users are disadvantaged more by roundabouts than traffic lights”.  Has Cr Baker not heard of zebra crossings?  They seem to work very well in other parts of the country. We actually have three zebra crossings in the town centre here in Yamba and they seem to work. Maybe if we take Cr Baker’s approach we should pull out all of the roundabouts in the Clarence Valley and replace them with traffic lights?  For the safety of the community of course …  Anyway, my suggestion would be to install raised zebra crossings and also reduce the speed limit to 40kph for the entire Treelands Drive shopping precinct.

“I have not met one single Yamba resident or visitor that is so self-indulgent as to support roundabouts”. Really, Cr Baker, when was the last time (if ever), you have come to Yamba, walked around and spoken to or listened to our community?

Cr Baker pushed for the approval of the Shell service station on the Treelands Drive/Yamba Road intersection, and said that the DA “ticked all the boxes”. He didn’t take into account how much concrete, far more than a small roundabout, goes into building a service station, and all the fossil fuel to power a service station. Not to mention the toxic vapours from the underground fuel tanks being vented into the atmosphere. He also didn’t take into consideration the safety of pedestrians with this DA. Maybe if he did consider some of these issues this DA would never have been approved and Council could have built the low cost roundabout as originally planned.

Why Cr Baker is pushing for traffic lights so hard and is now so concerned about the environment, safety and cost is anyone’s guess. It has been decided at two Council meetings to install roundabouts and, at the Extraordinary Meeting, Cr Ellem said “No more funny business”.  Cr Williamson said “Let’s just get on with it”.  It appears that this advice was not taken on board.  So whatever is going on in Council needs to stop and Cr Baker and whoever within Council need to accept the decision and get on with it.

I do agree with one thing Cr Baker said. “The long-identifiedYamba motorway’ or bypass road corridor has been hijacked by an orchid.  And will remain ‘proposed’ until, if ever, an outbreak of rational decision-making occurs”.  This is correct. Construct the second road to take the traffic away from Yamba Road.  Unfortunately there are two prominent businesses on that intersection that will not be happy if traffic is diverted away from Yamba Road.  In my opinion the owner of these businesses has an inappropriate degree of influence on Council’s decision making.

Don’t put developers before community. No more stalling. Just get on with it, before Council loses the $4.4m grant funding!

Joe Dimauro, Yamba