Archive: Black Forest Drive
Last Updated 23/9/11
Go to the Black Forest Drive Action Group Facebook Page for up to date information. www.facebook.com/DoNotNarrowBlackForest
For those already on Facebook just click on the following link to get all the latest news www.facebook.com/DoNotNarrowBlackForest then click the "Like" button at the top and if after reading the background info etc. You can then add some more comments and keep maintaining the rage.
If you are not yet on Facebook it is a fairly painless process, just click on the link above and then click on Sign up for Facebook.
(13/4/11- SG) Road returns to the four lane configuration supported by majority in community
The election promise of "Four Lanes Guaranteed" at Black Forest Drive has been delivered by the new State government.
Black Forest Drive between Gisborne and Woodend has been restored to a four lane configuration after VicRoads recently undid their two lane narrowing and restored the Macedon section to four lanes. Word is there is still more to do but it's a great start, according to locals who fought to keep 4 lanes. The moment was marked by the official application of "DELIVERED" to the election sign near the road promising 4 lanes.
Members of the Black Forest Drive Action Group [BFDAG] who organised a 3,000 signature petition and a Facebook page www.facebook.com/DoNotNarrowBlackForest calling for the road to remain 4 lanes were there for the occasion, along with local Liberal Upper House rep Donna Petrovich, and Ed O'Donohue, parliamentary secretary for Transport. Click here to see photos of the occasion.
That's a well done all round. There's something satisfying and inspiring about community groups, fighting for 'the right' and their community, getting a win.
In this case, it seems there was some reluctance on VicRoads' part to accept a change of State government, and consequently a change of policy for the road.
For some obscure reason, the BFD 'consultation' processes (set up before last November's State election) were kept under wraps and public participation excluded. If local goss is correct, some discreditable performances around both 'community' and 'consultation' eventuated at the behind-closed-doors 'consultation' meetings, where attendees were also effectively gagged by the terms of reference. MRRA has heard whispers that it took a lot of grit and determination to even front the meetings, with respect for community in very short supply at times. Maybe one day, the full story will come out.
Bouquets to all those who worked for and gained this outcome. Brickbats to those who thought it should all be done in secret and refused to listen to the message from local residents that the road should stay four lanes. May it be a lesson to any who thought democracy could be dumped and personal agendas implemented through changing the road.
By the way, VicRoads, we hear the tactile edging (rumble strip) hasn't yet been put back at Macedon. Bit of a priority, we'd say...
(20/11/10 - SG) BFDAG traffic accident report shows 2 lanes won't make it safer / VicRoads closes consultation group
There is plenty of argy-bargy going on with Black Forest Drive, and what happens to the road has become an election issue.
The Black Forest Drive Action Group, who represent those opposed to narrowing the road (3,000 petition signatures and 1,000 Facebook followers) have criticized VicRoads for not living up to (normal) standards of transparency and accountability with regard to the Stakeholders Reference Group which was set up as a forum for community consultation. VicRoads has apparently refused to allow the general public and local press to have access to SRG meetings. BFDAG also claim VicRoads has not provided information requested by SRG members, and broke its own (Terms of Reference) rules by not consulting SRG members before issuing media statements.
The BFDAG has also been criticized by those who seem to be representing cycling interests in this debate. Note: BFDAG say they support bicycle lanes, but only if they can be provided with a 4 traffic lane configuration.
In a major examination of traffic accident statistics for Black Forest Drive (a before and after freeways comparison), the BFDAG found traffic accidents causing casualties on the road fell significantly after the Woodend and Black Forest freeways opened (some 80% per year). Changes in the type of accidents also suggest the current 4 traffic lane configuration, with less traffic, is an overall safer road. BFDAG says its findings contradict VicRoads' claims that a central turning lane is needed because, according to BFDAG's analysis, there haven't been sufficient turning accidents to justify a turning lane, especially at the cost of losing traffic lanes. There also haven't been any head-on crashes anywhere on the road since the freeways opened.
BFDAG has asked the State government for a commitment to guarantee 4 lanes will be retained, but the government hasn't given such a guarantee. The Liberal/National party is guaranteeing 4 lanes will remain.
You can catch up with all of the latest news on Black Forest Drive by going to BFDAG's Facebook page, www.facebook.com/DoNotNarrowBlackForest
(13/8/10 - SG) Don't forget to sign up on BFDAG's Facebook page!
What a great job this group is doing.
So far, Ted Baillieu has promised to reinstate 4 lanes, Joanne Duncan (local ALP member for Macedon) has told locals the 4 lanes will remain, and the Minister for Roads Tim Pallas has written a letter that appears to endorse VicRoads' position (cut the road down to only 2 traffic lanes). The Minister's letter certainly gives no commitment to retaining 4 lanes.
While everyone waits, there was an accident this week on the newly 'reduced' Macedon section, where VicRoads has already gotten rid of the 4 lanes. A motorist, confronted by kangaroos, realised the only way to avoid a head-on with an on-coming car was to run off the left side of the road into an object. That's the choice that will be facing anyone travelling on only 2 lanes on Black Forest Drive because there won't be any room to move once VicRoads have finished with it.
Ah... improved safety? Really?
(15/7/10 - SG) Locals aren't impressed with VicRoads trying to sell cost-cutting as safety, so BE THERE
The saga of a stupid, dangerous, idea being forced on people who don't want it will continue this Friday in Woodend as VicRoads again tries to justify the unjustifiable, after they've already started implementing the unjustifiable.
The Black Forest Drive Action Group [BFDAG] is calling on all Woodend residents and anyone who uses the road to drop everything and get to the VicRoads' information session from 6.30 - 7.30 pm this Friday, 16 July at the Woodend Community Centre.
Click here for an information flyer from Black Forest Drive Action Group [BFDAG].
Click here for [BFDAG] details about the meeting in Woodend.
Click here for VicRoads' flyer which was supposed to be delivered to all residents (but not everyone got it)
Residents are wondering if, since VicRoads seems to think the black ice problem is solved with its option, the next thing to go will be the ice warning lights. Don't suppose VicRoads is proposing to restore the rumble strip either...
And this 'improves' road 'safety' for cars so cyclists can have the rest of the road? Woodend residents aren't buying it, and the petition going around now has some 2000 signatures.
You can still sign the petition (C-Store in Woodend has one).
You can also sign up and record your view on Facebook (700 people already have)
For those already on Facebook just click on the following link to get all the latest news http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Do-not-narrow-Black-Forest-Drive-Woodend/141566499192870?ref=sgm then click the "Like" button at the top and if after reading the background info etc. You can than add some more comments and keep maintaining the rage. If you are not yet on Facebook it is a fairly painless process, just click on the link above and then click on Sign up for Facebook.
We heard VicRoads thought 'only' 100 people turning up to the first 'information session' - on a cold Friday evening during school holidays - meant there wasn't much community opposition.
It is hard to comprehend how reducing a 4 lane road to a 2 lane road (the old Calder Highway) from Macedon to Woodend is a safety improvement. This seems to be the same thinking that saw 2 rail lines between Kyneton and Bendigo reduced to 1 line as part of the "Not So Very Fast Train" project. And we all know how well that works...
VicRoads wants to have a single lane either side of a 'no-go' middle lane (no overtaking, folks) that drivers can use solely to turn to and from Black Forest Drive. The middle lane will also be smothered in paint. And that's where the black ice will freely form, waiting for an impatient driver to overtake, or a resident to unwittingly attempt to turn towards home. Ice or snow on paint should be nice and slippery... As if no-one is going to overtake! And what a thrill driving up Black Forest Drive will be in the fog that frequently blankets this area - wooow!
The whisper is that VicRoads wants to reduce the capacity of the road so it can downgrade the status of the road, and hand responsibility for it over to Council. Thereby cutting VicRoads' costs considerably, because at the moment VicRoads is footing the bill for the upkeep of the road. Nice work if you can get it. But not so fast - didn't VicRoads agree to retaining and maintaining the road as a Category 1 road as part of the Woodend Bypass project? Yep, they did. Now they seem to be trying to wriggle out of their responsibilities.
The road itself at the moment is an accident waiting to happen, as VicRoads has already removed the line markings and reflectors from sections of the road. That makes it almost impossible to drive safely, and we will all be very lucky if there isn't yet another death or serious injury on this historically perilous road. If only VicRoads had consulted the community - as they are supposed to - before taking it upon themselves to rip the road up.
Good old VicRoads. If it was REALLY interested in improved safety it wouldn't be reducing the number of lanes, it would be resurfacing the road with something that reduces the dangers from black ice, which frequently forms along this section of road. Ice has in fact been a contributing factor to a horrendous number of deaths and serious injury accidents in the past - a key reason for building the Woodend Bypass which has ice warning lights and heated bridges. But only 50% of traffic is diverted to the Bypass. That leaves a lot of traffic, not only heading for Woodend but also Daylesford, using Black Forest Drive.
So how about leaving 4 lanes, putting a better surface on the road, and reducing some of the substandard curves and wicked grades, keeping the ice warning lights and repairing the rumble strip. Or doesn't VicRoads understand those type of safety improvements anymore? Seems not.
Get to the meeting on Friday to show VicRoads YOU care about safety - real safety - even if VicRoads doesn't.
(29/6/10 - SG) No consultation, no information as VicRoads closes 2 of 4 lanes on old Calder Hwy
Woodend and nearby residents are angry at VicRoads' decision to shut down 2 of the 4 lanes along Black Forest Drive (formerly the Calder Highway) between Gisborne and Woodend, without consulting the people who use it. This section of road is notorious for black ice formation, and has claimed many lives over the years.
Motorists have been confused recently by dotted lines added to the road surface by VicRoads, which has already downgraded the section between Macedon and Gisborne, even though in 1996 the independent panel for the Black Forest Freeway project was told "VicRoads did not forecast any significant change in operation or function of the existing road network."
A meeting was held recently in Woodend, organized not by VicRoads but by Rotary. Reports suggest VicRoads seemed to arrogantly regard the downgrade to 2 lanes to be a fait accompli.
VicRoads says having 2 lanes, and a middle turning lane, is safer.
Locals want to know (amongst other things) what stops head-on collisions in that 'turning' lane, how does traffic overtake, and what keeps traffic separated in icy conditions... Many Woodend residents will still remember the Kyneton couple who were decapitated in a head-on collision on this road one icy morning - and that was with 4 lanes.
Residents are furious at not being consulted, and a 500 signature petition was presented at Wednesday's Council meeting. There have also been some 30 letters pumped out by outraged residents.
The matter was raised in Parliament by Liberal Upper House rep, Donna Petrovich on 22/6/10. Click here for the Hansard record.
Latest news is that Labor Member for Macedon, Joanne Duncan, is meeting with VicRoads.
After the absolute caning VicRoads took over the appalling way it handled the Woodend Bypass project back in the 1990s, we would have thought its manners had improved. Not so. Seems some just don't learn their lesson. Go community!!!