Couple fight campaign to change hazardous traffic island
ARTIE den Exter has spent two years fighting Transport and Main Roads and Rockhampton Regional Council over a traffic island that has cost him tens of thousands of dollars.
Now it is set to cost Mr den Exter and his wife Karen up to $60,000 to stop people from endangering their lives and others.
Since the island on Musgrave St, outside Stockland Rockhampton, was constructed in 2009 during the shopping centre's redevelopment, the Yeppoon couple have lost the tenant leasing their land on the corner of Clifton and Musgrave Streets.
The den Exters were forced to redevelop the land after motorists waiting at nearby street lights began "short-cutting" through the driveway to avoid several traffic lights and save 1km.
A safety report by McMurtrie Consulting Engineers,commissioned by Mr den Exter, found that any accident between a vehicle and pedestrian could cause death or serious injury, while a two-vehicle accident could also cause serious injury.
The den Exters redeveloped the land, and several businesses sit there now.
But the driveway is still as potentially fatal as it ever was.
Transport and Main Roads have responsibility for the Musgrave St intersection, but council has responsibility for Clifton St and the development applications submitted by Stockland.
Mr den Exter said 10 surrounding land owners met with Stockland, the Transport and Main Roads and council in March 2006 to discuss the intersection.
He said all the land owners agreed the intersection would be unsafe and the shopping chain assured they would change it.
But the intersection that was built was not the one agreed upon, Mr den Exter said.
"It was changed behind our backs and we didn't get the opportunity to make a submission," he said. "If someone was injured they could sue me, council, the Transport and Main Roads and my tenant."
When Mr den Exter first raised his safety concerns, Transport and Main Roads offered to pay to close the Clifton St driveway.
But Mr den Exter refused because it would reduce access to the property and value.
"It is completely unreasonable that we should be so badly disadvantaged by a defective intersection design," he said.
Mr den Exter was forced to submit a development application to council to fix the problem himself.
Council approved the application, but with a list of costly conditions.
One of the stipulations was that Mr den Exter fund roadworks on the streets around the property.
"We are being forced to close a driveway and pay for all works on council and Main Roads assets to fix a serious safety problem created during the Stockland redevelopment," he said. "To make matters worse this would probably not have happened if we did not do the right thing by making the problems known. They ignored us, we spent thousands of dollars on the traffic report, then they want to bully us into fixing it."
CQG Consulting town planner Brittany Lauga addressed councillors of the Planning and Development Committee on behalf of Mr den Exter last month.
Ms Lauga told the committee that council and the Transport and Main Roads should not have accepted Stockland's change to the conditions of the intersection.
She said Stockland should have made the change to the entire development application so stakeholders could have a say.
While council didn't admit any responsibility, rather placing the onus on the Transport and Main Roads, councillors agreed council should play a facilitative role to help resolve the problems raised by the intersection.
A report was requested for a future committee meeting.
Mr den Exter was positive after the meeting.
"We thank the development committee for allowing us to present our case and the constructive attitude during the deputation," he said. "Real progress has been made and we are confident the matter will be resolved now with the involvement of our elected representatives rather than bureaucrats."
Mr den Exter said he would make a further deputation next month.
Stockland chose not to make a formal response and directed The Morning Bulletin to council.
Council and the Transport and Main Roads provided responses which can be read in today's edition of The Morning Bulletin.