Barking at the wrong trees

While State governments and Local Councils strain under the weight of infrastructure necessities and rising costs it seems strangely ironic that the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) would go to such bureaucratic and costly lengths to ‘solve’ the ‘problem’ of our gracious and much loved poplar avenues.

It’s hard to estimate what the cost of the report writers, consultants, arborists and road engineers, let alone the proposed remedy. I was proudly told that the cost of the new propagation, tree lopping and maintenance was only $180,000 as opposed to $1 million per kilometre of guard rail. But what would the cost be of a couple of 80KM signs?

The arguments put forward by the RMS for eventually getting rid of the original avenues of trees seems flawed by so many precedents elsewhere. For a start there are plenty of tree avenues elsewhere.

We’re told that the showground is too far from town for the 80km zone to start, but most people could name plenty of long 80km zones around the state- like Cowra or Wagga.

We’re told it’s too dangerous to have rumble bars, but even nearby there are a few -the Federal Highway entrance to Canberra and even closer by, the approaches to the Defence HQ roundabout.

Then there are the precedents for hard materials close to roadways. Apart from all the trees within the ‘dangerous’ zone that are still being planted, (think Queanbeyan where they have just planted trees down the dual carriage way median strip), there are numerous examples of concrete barriers, tunnels and walls lining single and dual carriages alongside roadways.

Why is it that the Canberra traffic must be treated differently? Is their time more precious? If so, should they be contributing to planning a bypass?

Another great inconsistency is the uncoordinated way in which this roadside hazard issue is being treated from the rest of the traffic issues around Braidwood.

While one arm of the RMS is tackling the poplar avenues and refusing to lower the speed limit, another is looking at ways to slow the traffic in town an extra pedestrian crossing. While the likely outcome is concrete blisters protruding from our footpaths at a couple of locations down Wallace street, to make the crossing distance shorter and provide some refuge, quite a number of car spaces will be lost. Surely slowing the traffic for longer out of town would ease the drivers into a quieter pace though town. They might like what they see. Which brings us to planning for a town carpark which ever increasing visitor numbers will require.

Add to this the future need for a bypass, which would remove the cars and trucks that were never going to stop away and make the place a much more enjoyable and pleasant place for visitors to come and enjoy all that we have to offer at their leisure. Realistically a bypass is decades from being built, but the money being spent on removing and replacing the poplars would be much better spent on the initial planning and survey stages, saving millions in the future.

Frankly, I think they can’t see the speed for the trees.

Alex Rea

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