At last, a letter!

3 Jun 2009

In February the convenor of The Walking Classes, Narelle Hanratty, launched a community project called 'A Walk in the Park.'  It aims to have pedestrian crossings installed at six locations around Toorak.  As part of this project, a submission requesting the crossings was sent to Stonnington Council in March, and a public rally held in Como Park on 3 May.

A few days ago, Stonnington Council sent a response to the submission.

In general ...

In general, the Council's response is positive, and also surprising.  It's positive because the Council agrees to assess three of the locations for crossings, and notes a fourth location has already been listed for improvement.  A fifth location is ruled out.  A sixth location is where their response gets surprising.  This location is the key one in the submission.  It's the location at the intersection of Bruce Street and Williams Road, and requires not simply a pedestrian crossing, but a pedestrian-operated signal.  The Council's letter is surprising because it reveals such a lot of activity about this site.

For detail on the Council's response to each suggested location, keep reading below ...

Location 1: Intersection of Bruce Street and Williams Road
The Council's response outlines a story of almost constant activity about this location, including the following:

* 'a number of years ago' Council and/or VicRoads obtained Accident Blackspot funding to install a pedestrian-operated signal, but didn't proceed 'primarily due to concerns with the impact on trees'

* in February 2007, Council and/or VicRoads raised another proposal, but were advised that the then Department of Infrastructure (DOI) was going to do it instead under the 'Bus Red Spot Program';  DOI then put it on hold

* in April 2008, VicRoads wanted to do it again, but then a few weeks later pulled out citing 'poor visibility' and 'concern for Council's trees'.

Presumably, this is in addition to at least two previous proposals, raised in 1986 and 2002.  All of this activity is curious for several reasons, not least how it's possible that a tree or two is not cut down in the interests of public safety, or that despite the apparent preciousness of the trees the proposal keeps getting raised.

The Council concludes its overview of this location by stating, 'In response to your suggestion, Council has requested Mr Tony Lupton M.P. that the State Government considers this project for funding in the upcoming financial year.'

Location 2: Bruce Street, near the corner of Balmerino Avenue
The Council responds that it will 'undertake relevant surveys to assess the proposal ... and forward your request to VicRoads for further investigation.'  This sounds positive, though it's delivered in a tone of utmost scepticism.

Location 3: Intersection of Wallace Avenue and Washington Street
The Council responds that it does not support crossings at this location.

Location 4: Intersection of Toorak Road and Wallace Avenue
The Council responds most positively about this location.  It says it will add such a crossing to 'Stonnington's draft capital projects' and will 'investigate design options to assist with road safety.'

Location 5: Jackson Street, between Safeway and Glamorgan School
The Council responds that it will add this to the 'list of sites for further investigation.'

Location 6: Intersection of Alexandra Avenue and Williams Road North
The Council responds that this area is 'currently being considered in the Como Park North Masterplan for improvements.  These improvements will involve traffic management, which will assist in pedestrian accessibility in this area'.