Roads and Maritime Services is investigating improvements to two busy intersections on Cessnock Road, Abermain.
The NSW Government provided $100,000 this financial year for the RMS to investigate improvements to the main road’s junctions with Charles Street and Orange Street.
Centre for Road Safety data shows there have been 11 crashes on Cessnock Road between Harle Street and Forbes Street between the Hunter Expressway’s opening in March 2014 and June 2017 (with data for the second half of 2017 still to be finalised).
The Centre for Road Safety only reports on crashes recorded by NSW Police, in which at least one person was killed or injured, or in which at least one motor vehicle was towed away.
The recorded crashes resulted in 16 people being injured (including three people seriously injured), and one involving a pedestrian who was seriously injured.
Two of the 11 crashes occurred after the re-opening of Frame Drive bridge in February 2017.
Cessnock MP Clayton Barr said it was important that these intersections were on the RMS’s radar, because of the increase in traffic since the expressway opened (with motorists using Orange Street, Frame Drive and Gingers Lane to access the Loxford exit).
“The Hunter Expressway has in some ways worsened the situation,” Mr Barr said.
“RMS have accepted that people are using (Orange Street and Frame Drive) to get to the expressway.
“It has gone from being really bad a decade ago, to a shambles now.”
Mr Barr said the statistics don’t necessarily reflect the danger, because of the near misses that occur on those corners.
“It’s not yet a black spot, but with the near misses and angst it causes, it should definitely be a priority project,” he said.
“It’s a shame to think we’ve got to have accidents to get action.”
Mr Barr said while changes definitely need to be made, there was no simple solution.
Abermain Newsagency owner Robyn Young said something needed to be done, but traffic lights weren’t the answer, as it would impact nearby businesses with the loss of parking spots.
Ms Young said the corner is busier since the expressway opened, but only during peak hours.
She said motorists need to better obey the road rules: “People have got to learn that you just don’t go flying out of that corner,” she said.
While no accidents were recorded within 10 metres of the Orange Street corner from March 2014 to June 2017, nearby residents say there have been two accidents at that corner this year alone.
Two of the 11 crashes on Cessnock Road in that period occurred within 10 metres of the Charles Street corner.
Cessnock mayor Bob Pynsent said with the mounting pressure on the city’s state road network, the safety of road users should be a priority.
“The Hunter Expressway has completely changed travel patterns and significantly increased vehicle movements on local roads that were once lower-volume thoroughfares,” he said.
“I share the community’s safety concerns about our roads since the opening of the Hunter Expressway and the NSW Government needs to investigate and resolve these issues through appropriate funding, ensuring vital works are completed.
“As a council, we will continue to work with the state government to ensure these safety issues across our road network are addressed.”
An RMS spokesperson said the community will be kept informed about any proposed improvements at the intersections.