Heddon Greta community and Cessnock MP say pedestrian safety upgrades are urgently needed

TRAGEDY: Cessnock MP Clayton Barr on Main Road, Heddon Greta, where a pedestrian died after being hit by a car on Saturday night. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
TRAGEDY: Cessnock MP Clayton Barr on Main Road, Heddon Greta, where a pedestrian died after being hit by a car on Saturday night. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

The Heddon Greta community is mourning the loss of one of its own after a devastating accident on Saturday night.

Anne Bourke, 47, died after she was hit by a car while walking across Main Road around 11pm Saturday.

Police said the female driver, aged 27, stopped to render assistance to Ms Bourke. The driver was conveyed to Maitland Hospital for mandatory blood and urine testing.

Hunter Valley Police have started an investigation.

The incident occurred near the intersection of Young Street, where the Heddon Greta Residents Action Group has been lobbying Cessnock City Council and the NSW Government for traffic lights for two years.

Action group member Steve Gilbey said the community was in shock after Ms Bourke's tragic passing.

"The town has been majorly impacted by this," he said.

The action group was formed in 2018 to advocate for better infrastructure for the rapidly-growing township, where hundreds of new homes have been built over the past decade, and about 3000 more are planned.

One of its priorities is improving traffic issues and pedestrian safety on Main Road - which has seen an enormous increase in traffic since the opening of the Hunter Expressway in 2014.

SAFETY: The residents action group wants traffic lights on Main Road at the intersection of Heddon Street (pictured), and Young Street.

SAFETY: The residents action group wants traffic lights on Main Road at the intersection of Heddon Street (pictured), and Young Street.

Action group president Daryll Jackson said the group wants to see traffic lights installed urgently on Main Road at the Young Street and Heddon Street intersections.

"Kids cross that road every day - we want to make the area safer for everyone," he said.

Cessnock MP Clayton Barr said he has made "dozens" of representations about Main Road to various roads ministers during his nine years in parliament.

"It seems that they can find endless buckets of money for Sydney-based projects but then turn around and claim that there is no money available for important local projects in the regions," he said.

"The problems with traffic volumes, pedestrian and motor vehicle safety on Main Road are not new problems.

"Fears about traffic were foreseeable when the Hunter Expressway was first announced and they were proven once the HEX was built and this road became a major connection route."

Mr Barr extended his sympathy to Ms Bourke's family and friends, and said Saturday's accident confirmed a long-held fear in the community.

"I sincerely hope that this tragedy will open the eyes and draw the attention of the Government decision makers that have, for so long, ignored this genuine risk," he said. "Keep in mind we have dozens of school children crossing this dangerous road each morning and afternoon as well as the many adult pedestrians.

"Road safety is a responsibility for all of us, but it also included good road design and road infrastructure."

The residents group prompted Cessnock City Council to devise a strategic land use plan for the Heddon Greta-Cliftleigh precinct.

The plan will recognise the current and projected future local population's needs for local services and amenities, recreational opportunities and where urban design improvement should occur.

An update on the plan will be presented at Wednesday night's council meeting. It states that council is meeting with Transport for NSW's Main Road 195 Working Group, and that a draft plan is due to come back to council by the last quarter of 2020.

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