Figtree residents blast Princes Highway upgrade

It was the $15 million traffic solution meant to fix one of Figtree’s biggest intersections, but residents say it is a failure.

The Roads and Maritime Services’ upgrade to the Princes Highway near The Avenue and Bellevue Road was designed to reduce congestion, improve traffic flow from Westfield Figtree and make the busy intersection safer during peak hour.

But at a barbecue hosted by the RMS and Parliamentary Secretary for Transport and Roads John Ajaka today, motorists delivered a scathing assessment of the new work. 

Mount St Thomas mother Deanne Richardson, who drives an after school care bus through the intersection five days a week, said the new intersection was ‘‘a disgrace’’.

She said the biggest problem was a red arrow that prevented traffic from the turning right from the Princes Highway on to The Avenue even when traffic was clear.

‘‘I hate the new lights, because we get four sets of lights between Mount St Thomas and Figtree Public school, and it takes us half an hour to do the round trip when it should only take about 10 or 15 minutes,’’ she said.

Figtree resident Wendy Wilson said extra lanes installed during the upgrade had made the intersection more dangerous and confusing.

‘‘Now when you come around the corner you have all these people trying to merge, because they can go straight ahead or go to Westfield, so there’s a lot more confusion,’’ Ms Wilson said.

In addition to those who turned out today, dozens of readers blasted the upgrade on the Mercury website.

‘‘Traffic is worse than ever,’’ online commenter Mel said.

‘‘Now takes two to three sets of light changes to get out of The Avenue [and] traffic is banked up along Bellevue Road regularly.’’

Mr Ajaka said the RMS was taking residents’ feedback ‘‘very seriously’’ and would do its best to address their concerns.

‘‘The biggest issue for the people we’ve spoken to is the lights and the sequencing in busy traffic,’’ he said.

‘‘They have been carefully monitored every day for the past two weeks, and we have already made some adjustments, but there are clearly further adjustments that need to be made.’’

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