City roads being reviewed

Alicia PereraPilbara News
Last week’s collision between a 4WD ute and a hatchback at the traffic lights at the entrance to Karratha.
Camera IconLast week’s collision between a 4WD ute and a hatchback at the traffic lights at the entrance to Karratha. Credit: Pilbara News, Tom Zaunmayr.

Several roads in the Karratha city centre recently upgraded by Government spending have come under review for causing traffic problems, as the City of Karratha council last month looked into changing the design of two key intersections.

At their February meeting, councillors voted in favour of seeking Main Roads approval to instal a roundabout at the problematic intersection of Sharpe Avenue and Welcome Road.

They noted the current give way design, which gives drivers on Sharpe Avenue priority, had often caused long delays and frustration for drivers and there had been three reported accidents at the intersection.

The estimated cost of $476,000 for the roundabout’s design and construction would come out of the Red Earth Arts Precinct project budget.

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Councillors also requested that City officers and traffic engineers work on a redesign of a more recent road upgrade, the new Karratha Terrace and Hedland Place intersection, to enable a right-hand turn on to the terrace from the Hedland Place business strip.

Traffic engineers ARUP designed the current left-in, left-out format based on safety concerns, but several councillors said it was confusing local drivers who were used to the right-hand turn, prompting some to make it anyway. Cr Geoff Harris said if the intersection remained as it was, it would change people’s habits so they are “just not going to go there”, hurting small businesses on Hedland Place.

Mayor Peter Long said councillors were seeking new road designs that were both safe and allowed for a free flow of traffic around the city centre.

“Originally traffic signals were planned for these intersections, however, that is no longer considered the preferred treatment by Main Roads WA,” he said.

“We know the treatments that are currently in place have been causing some issues with commuters and so we are very eager to investigate alternative designs that improve traffic flow but also meet the relevant safety standards.”

Mr Long said the council anticipated city roads would only become busier in the next few years as several key projects were completed and local roads had to accommodate that.

“As new projects like the Red Earth Arts Precinct, these intersections will become increasingly busy so it is important that we have treatments that safely accommodate peak-period traffic flow,” he said.

“We will continue to work with Main Roads WA and traffic engineers to investigate safe and prac-tical designs for both intersections.”

Meanwhile, the accident rate at the Dampier Highway and De Witt Road intersection since traffic lights were installed was highlighted again after a car and a four-wheel-drive crashed there last week. It takes the total number of crashes since the lights were installed in August, 2015 to 14, compared with 28 across the previous five years.

The intersection was upgraded from 2014 with $600,000 in State Government Black Spot upgrade funding, along with $300,000 from the City of Karratha.

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