Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter, Scot MacDonald visits St Philip's Christian College to discuss roundabout on Wine Country Drive

Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter, Scot MacDonald says he would like to see a solution “sooner rather than later” to the traffic problems around St Philip’s Christian College at Nulkaba.

Mr MacDonald visited the school on Monday to discuss its proposal for a roundabout that would provide a second access point on Wine Country Drive, alleviating the congestion at the corner of Lomas Lane.

The school’s development application for a roundabout was rejected at last week’s Cessnock City Council meeting after it had been deemed “unsuitable” by Roads and Maritime Services, but the council will support the concept of a roundabout, subject to an approved design and satisfactory arrangements of RMS.

Council also voted to request – via Mr MacDonald – an urgent meeting with RMS, the school and Cessnock MP Clayton Barr to discuss the project.

Mr MacDonald said RMS still has “some issues” with the proposal – such as the roundabout providing access to a private road, and the impact it may have on the efficiency of Wine Country Drive (an 80-kilometre zone).

But he said he understands the community’s frustrations over traffic congestion and safety, and with the college’s population only set to grow, a solution is urgently needed.

“What they are proposing makes a lot of sense,” Mr MacDonald said.

“St Philip’s is growing – the issue isn’t going to go away.

“We can’t bury our heads in the sand.

“I’d like to see it resolved, sooner rather than later.”

St Philip’s deputy principal Martin Telfer said he appreciated Mr MacDonald giving his time to hear the school’s concerns about the safety of road users on Wine Country Drive.

“This has been a long process, but I feel that Mr MacDonald understands the potential dangers that currently exist,” Mr Telfer said.

“I am hopeful that we will come to a swift resolution that promotes the safety of children and families, and reflects common sense.”

EARLIER REPORT: School may get its roundabout after all

MAY 17 2018 - 11:30AM

ACCESS POINT: St Philip's Christian College Cessnock principal Darren Cox at the site on Wine Country Drive (opposite the new service station) where he hopes the school can build a roundabout as a second entry-exit point.

ACCESS POINT: St Philip's Christian College Cessnock principal Darren Cox at the site on Wine Country Drive (opposite the new service station) where he hopes the school can build a roundabout as a second entry-exit point.

St Philip’s Christian College and Cessnock City Council will continue to work with Roads and Maritime Services to address the road safety issues near the Nulkaba school.

While the council knocked back the development application itself, it voted to support the concept of a roundabout, subject to an approved design and satisfactory arrangements of RMS.

The school currently has one access point via Lomas Lane, which results in a gridlock at school peak times and also means community groups that use the school’s sporting facilities have to drive through the school grounds to do so.

The school engaged a traffic consultant who said a roundabout would be the most appropriate solution to the problem, but the RMS has deemed that option an “unsuitable” intersection treatment.

St Philip’s Cessnock principal Darren Cox said he was happy with the outcome of Wednesday night’s meeting.

“It’s a way forward with all the relevant parties to solve the issues and get a positive solution,” he said.

“I appreciate council’s support for better access for the school, and the community who benefits from these facilities as well.

“Now we just need to make it happen as soon as we can to keep the community safe.”

Councillor Jay Suvaal’s resolution also called for council to request (via Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter, Scot MacDonald) an urgent meeting with RMS, the school and Cessnock MP Clayton Barr.

Council will also investigate immediate measures that could improve pedestrian and vehicular safety around the school.

“It is a safety issue, everyone knows it – doing nothing is not an option,” Cr Suvaal said.

“We need a consensus approach across all the agencies.”

Councillor Di Fitzgibbon said a roundabout would help alleviate traffic issues that extend into the Nulkaba village.

“Motorists and residents battle diabolical conditions, leading to poor driver behaviour,” she said.

“Wine Country Drive as we know it will change, there’s a lot of development out there and we need to move with the times to address the issues as they come along.

“I urge councillors to put their weight to it, to send a message to the State Government that we have reached boiling point.”

Councillor Rod Doherty said council should have added traffic lights to the resolution to keep its options open.

Cr Doherty said roundabouts have failed on some main roads, such as John Renshaw Drive where they are being replaced with traffic lights.

Councillor Ian Olsen also supported a signalised intersection.

“RMS has been asked to comment, and they have said that a roundabout is not suitable,” he said.

“Traffic lights would be the best solution.

“Something needs to be done, and quickly, but a roundabout isn’t the only answer.”

Cr Paul Dunn moved that the resolution just read “an intersection” (rather than a roundabout and traffic lights) but the amendment was lost.

Cr Suvaal said the resolution still allowed council to explore other options if a roundabout is rejected.

“If we do get to the meeting and RMS says no, then so be it, but at least we have put our view forward,” he said.

“It’s not a roundabout or nothing, it’s just supporting the concept of a roundabout.”

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