By Kyra Gillespie
“Terrifying”, “dangerous” and “a disaster” – these are the words being used to describe Pakenham’s most notorious intersection.
The intersection of Main Street, McGregor Road and the Princes Highway has long been a source of controversy.
There have been 15 casualty crashes at the Princes Highway and McGregor Road intersection and three at the intersection of Main Street and McGregor Road in the past five years alone.
Garnering over 130 signatures from across Pakenham, elderly petitioner Lazso Sinclair says enough is enough.
“Accidents happen all the time as this intersection, it’s really terrifying,” Mr Sinclair said.
“It’s particularly disastrous for elderly drivers who are vision-poor and have slower reflexes.
“It’s only a matter of time before someone gets killed here.”
Fellow elderly petitioner Merv Gould says he is afraid the treacherous road, and will lengthen his trip just to avoid it.
“I am too scared to cross it, so I avoid it altogether,” Mr Gould said.
Calls to improve the intersection have the support of MP Brian Paynter, who regularly uses the road.
“VicRoads needs to come up with a solution,” Mr Paynter said.
“As a user of this intersection all the time I know how dangerous it is.
“The whole of McGregor Road needs an upgrade. If it’s not this intersection it’s the level crossing, it’s the signals on the crossing, it’s the people turning right into Roger Street coming north, it’s Henty Street needing lights, and it’s the on-off ramps.
“I am pushing for an upgrade of McGregor Road right through.”
Mr Sinclair believes that millions of dollars in rates have been paid out of his retirement village in Main Street alone.
“Many millions are paid in rates in this area – we have every right for some basic improvements,” he said.
“There’s a huge increase of pensioners coming here to live, and for us life is not a rehearsal. We pensioners pay our rates and what do we get back? Nothing.
“This should have been rectified many years ago. Lives are at risk here.”
The intersection is managed by the Cardinia Shire, and council has admitted the site is a cause for “inconvenience” and “difficulty” for motorists.
“Council completed duplication and intersection upgrade works three years ago on McGregor Road between Rogers and Main streets in Pakenham,” Council’s Infrastructure Services Manager Andrew Barr said.
“In addition, VicRoads made further improvements around the Princes Highway and McGregor Road intersection over 12 months ago.
“While the works have improved safety, access and traffic flow, this area still causes some inconvenience and difficulty for motorists.”
Mr Barr said that while the intersection does present a current challenge, the council does have plans to address it in the future.
“The Pakenham Township Strategy identifies realigning Main Street with McGregor Road at Cunningham Crescent and adding a signalised intersection as a future goal,” he said.
“Changing where vehicles enter Main Street would significantly improve traffic movements in Pakenham.
“The works would present a significant cost to council and are subject to future budget considerations.”
These improvements by VicRoads included resequencing traffic lights to improve safety for traffic turning right from McGregor Road and The Avenue and upgrading the existing pedestrian crossing to make crossing easier and safer.
“Safety is our top priority,” VicRoads Manager for Movement and Safety Sasha Yarwood said.
“Improvements to address concerns were put in place in April 2017 at the Princes Highway and McGregor Road intersection which has helped reduce the number of crashes at this intersection.
“We will continue to monitor this intersection to ensure the safety of drivers relying on this intersection every day.”