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  • Crispin Till

    Email Crispin Till

    Student safety must come before congestion issues on Sheridan St


    Parents at Mother of Good Counsel School fear the latest push to raise the speed limit on Sheridan St to ease traffic congestion will have tragic consequences.

    As reported by TropicNow yesterday, Cairns Regional Council is writing to the State Government to ask for the speed limit in the busy zone outside the school to be raised to 60km/h to "improve traffic flow". 

    Council believes existing safety measures at the school zone such as a signalised pedestrian crossing and crossing supervisors justify the call to raise the speed limit without posing a safety risk to children and parents.

    RED LIGHT WARNING

    But with two children almost hit by cars on the crossing in the past week, the school's P&F Association president Mark Bennett says the risk to students and parents is just too great.

    "The drivers have just run the red light, they haven't stopped," he said.

    "I don't know if they were distracted but the incidents have been reported to the police.

    "In one near miss, if the mum did not react and pull the child back they would have been hit.

    "There have been many studies that show at 40km/h a pedestrian can survive in an accident but at 60km/h the pedestrian would be killed if hit by a car.

    "All members of the school community think the zone should stay and the speed limit should stay at 40km/h.

    "I don't know why the council has weighed in on a state-controlled road."

    FOCUS ON IMPROVING INFRASTRUCTURE

    The 40km/h zone has been in place since 2010 and it can only be removed with the support of the school.

    Flashing lights were added to signs in the zone during an upgrade in 2013.

    With thousands of motorists using the busy road daily to get to and from the northern beaches, Mr Bennett understands the concerns with congestion, especially during peak hours.

    But he said the issue was caused by infrastructure not keeping pace with population and traffic growth rather than any effect from the school zone.

    "We have actually put forward recommendations previously to help ease congestion and maintain safety at the school but they have been rejected as too expensive," he said.

    Among the school's recommendations were a change to lanes outside the school where motorists have to merge from three lanes into two, as well as funnelling traffic off Sheridan St to avoid multiple sets of traffic lights and ease congestion on the highway.

    "An overhead footpath has been discussed previously but I don't think it needs to come to that," he said.

    "A crash barrier on Sheridan St for the entire length of the school would also help."

    There are no plans to remove the zone and the Department of Transport and Main Roads will give any formal requests from council on changes to the school zone "proper consideration".