Dubbo MP Troy Grant, mayor Ben Shields welcome road safety boost

Audio tactile line markings along the Mitchell Highway west of Trangie - a stretch of road that has claimed seven lives in the past eight years.
Audio tactile line markings along the Mitchell Highway west of Trangie - a stretch of road that has claimed seven lives in the past eight years.

They’ve recently been installed along a deadly stretch of the Mitchell Highway west of Trangie.

Now more life-saving wire rope barriers and audio tactile line markings will be rolled out as part of a $600 million boost to NSW road safety funding.

Other measures could include widened roadways and more overtaking and passing lanes.

Dubbo MP Troy Grant said the safety upgrades were “extremely vital” in order to address the two-thirds of NSW road deaths that occur on country roads.

“We have big problems on some sections of the Mitchell Highway,” he said.

“There’s a lot more sections of the road [west of Trangie] that need to be upgraded so that will be part of the priority and between here and Bathurst essentially there’s plenty of opportunity for more road upgrades.”

The funding boost brings the total allocation for road safety to $1.9 billion over five years.

It includes $250 million for enhanced enforcement, including 50 additional highway patrol officers in regional areas, roadside alcohol testing and a doubling of mobile drug testing.

The NSW Police hierarchy will ultimately decide where officers are stationed, but Mr Grant said the number bound for the western region “won’t be a small amount”.

“That’s pretty significant … it will give them greater capacity to patrol the backroads, because we’ve got two-thirds of our fatalities from country drivers,” he said.

“Police visibility is the best deterrent, rather than cameras, so that’s where the money is being invested.”

Dubbo Regional Council mayor Ben Shields said “it’s good to see the government putting its money where its mouth is, but I still think we need more”.

“It’s great … Dubbo has so many highway coming into us and we’ve got the stats to back it up that our highways can be quite dangerous and quite deadly,” Councillor Shields said.

“We still need a lot more money into overtaking lanes and really projects to make the highway safer, but they also need to look at a lot of the … council roads that are funded by the state government.

“I’ve got over 1500 kilometres of dirt road that I haven’t got sealed in this Dubbo Regional area. I’d desperately love some more money for the basic bread and butter infrastructure; sealing roads, making them safer.

“We certainly need the state to come to the rescue and help of local governments to get this turned around.”

Mr Grant said he hasn’t “heard a single request from the Dubbo mayor for projects”.

“He has not written to me or the Roads Minister – I’ve checked – which is a bit disappointing,” he said.

“If he wants money then he needs to actually go through a formal process and not play his agenda out in the media.”