BEVERLY HILLS NORTH PUBLIC SCHOOL PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE
Mr IEMMA (Hurstville) [5.36]: I raise an issue of grave concern to one of the schools in my electorate. It follows the Staysafe decision to investigate child safety at schools following the recent tragedy at Blacktown. Beverly Hills North Public School is located at the intersection of Shorter Avenue and King Georges Road, Beverly Hills. The school community is concerned that the next fatality of a young child at a school will be at Beverly Hills North Public School. The school has 511 students who each day are exposed to danger in crossing King Georges Road. A submission by the school to the Minister for Roads and to the consultants examining extension of the M5 tollway states that since 1983 traffic passing the school has increased from 39,360 vehicles a day to 55,681, an increase of 39 per cent. More significantly, since the tollway was opened the number of vehicles passing the school each day has increased by 3,000. The school is only 200 metres from the termination of the tollway. The increased traffic has increased the danger to the students.
So far, the school's submissions to the Roads and Traffic Authority have not resulted in a pedestrian bridge being built across King Georges Road to provide what would be the only safe means of crossing King Georges Road. The school council, in its submission to the Minister for Roads, did not exaggerate when it said that the next fatality of a schoolchild would be at Beverly Hills North. Recently there have been a number of near misses, the last only a couple of weeks ago. A group of students were crossing King Georges Road when a vehicle was able to stop only inches from the students. A fatality was avoided by the barest margin. Earlier this year a four-wheel drive mounted the footpath at the intersection of Shorter Avenue and King Georges Road at 3 o'clock. Had it mounted the footpath at 3.10 p.m. it would have ploughed into a group of children waiting to cross the road. Part of the problem is that the school is located on King Georges Road and a 40 kph school zone cannot be applied to King Georges Road. It is a six-lane highway and the 40 kph limit cannot apply. The limit is 70 kph and each time children cross the road the risk is life threatening.
Because of the Government's decision to undertake an environmental impact statement regarding the M5 extension, the school has made a submission to the consultants that part of any project to extend the tollway should include a bridge across King Georges Road for students at Beverly Hills North Public School. I urge the Minister to take the submission seriously and make funds available for construction of that pedestrian bridge. Part of the problem for students at that school has to do with signage for the tollway. Shorter Avenue has a sign near it that gives a right-turn traffic light arrow to alert motorists to the nearby tollway entry.
Unfortunately, many motorists mistake the green arrow traffic flow indicator for Shorter Avenue as being the entry for the tollway. They move into the right-hand turn bay waiting to turn into Shorter Avenue, thinking they are turning into the tollway. When they discover their mistake they do a U-turn in Shorter Avenue. Earlier this year a four-wheel drive vehicle mounted the footpath. Many container transports use King Georges Road. If only one container truck driver were to make a similar mistake, a real tragedy could occur in Shorter Avenue at that intersection. I urge the Minister to take the school's submission seriously and make funds available through the Roads and Traffic Authority for construction of that overhead bridge.