Thomas Road angst

Thomas Road angst

Oakford resident Morgan Byas has raised concerns over Thomas Road and would like to see the council and state government work together to fix congestion and road safety issues. Photograph – Aaron Van Rongen.

Oakford resident Morgan Byas has expressed concerns that Thomas Road was becoming unusable due to what he has described as decades of neglect by the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale.

Mr Byas, who has lived in the shire for more than 30 years, says the condition of the roads especially in the rural areas including Thomas Road did not match the rapid rate at which the population was growing.

“We are a growing area,” he said.

“The infrastructure needs to be upgraded.”

Mr Byas said he was frustrated the shire has dismissed the issue as being Main Roads problem in the past.

“Shifting the blame isn’t leadership and our community expects, and deserves, better,” he said.

“The issue goes beyond congestion and has become a community safety issue.

“From my house you can hear the sirens and I think to myself I hope no one’s been killed.”

Mr Byas said black spot funding had been given to the shire about 10 years ago but the shire did not go ahead with the upgrades, as Main Roads did not approve the shire’s plan for the road.

“This is not good enough,” he said.

“The Thomas Road Nicholson Road intersection is one of the riskiest in the state.

“I don’t know why the shire and local government can’t work together to find a solution.”

Member for Darling Range Barry Urban did not say if the government and council would work together to find a solution to Thomas Road.

Mr Urban said it was the responsibility of the shire from South Western Highway through to Tonkin Highway and the remainder of the road was the responsibility of Main Roads.

“The Thomas Road, Nicholson Road intersection has been a growing problem for the past 12 years,” he said.

“The shire was given money by Main Roads to upgrade this intersection, but when the shire costed this work and discovered that they would end up out of pocket an ex-shire engineer returned the money and dismissed the issue of this intersection.”

Mr Urban did not address Mr Byas’s comment, ‘its main roads problem is wearing thin,’ instead he said the real answer to congestion on Thomas Road was to have Tonkin Highway extended to the South Western Highway south of Mundijong and reducing heavy haulage through the Byford town centre.

Shire president John Erren said the council is keen to vest Thomas Road to Main Roads WA as the road usage had expanded to the stage where this needs to be considered a state government asset.

“As Thomas Road is now being utilised as a strategic link between the two state highways the shire is working on the development of road upgrade designs to improve access to Thomas Road from adjacent developments,” he said.

“The shire is currently developing a road hierarchy model of our area to incorporate all classifications of roads as the shire has approximately 830 kilometres of roads over an area of 900km2.”

Mr Erren said the shire needed to look at rural roads to ensure local agricultural industry expansion projects were adequately serviced.

“We continue to lobby and investigate new opportunities to expand and improve the road network for our community in a challenging fiscal environment,” he said.

“The shire is consistently upgrading its roads and with the assistance of grants invests around $3 million in road renewal and upgrades each year.”

Main Roads WA spokeswoman said it acknowledged the traffic volumes at the Thomas Road location.

“Main Roads has allocated funds to investigate safety concerns at this intersection and develop possible treatments,” she said.

“It is expected that this development work will be completed by December 2017.”