By Stefanie Visser
(THESE PICTURES WERE TAKEN SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 14)
2020 is almost (finally) over and with this we all get a well deserved Christmas break. More than anything I think the mental distancing from all that has happened this year is really important and wished for by everyone; a time to calm down and maybe think about the real spirit of Christmas.
With this time, we all get a relief from traffic also and hopefully things will have settled down by the time school goes back in 2021.
I received an extensive reply from the General Manager of the Hills Shire Council. I will provide the information forwarded to me via dot points, as the letter is almost 4 pages long. Please remember that this in no way a reflection of my personal opinion.
• Annangrove Road and Kenthurst Rd between Annangrove and New Line Road are sub-arterial roads and can expect to carry between 10,000 and 20,000 vehicles per day.
• Most recent traffic count was March 2018 – raw traffic data, does not take into account the congestion and delays at locations along our route. Useless for us as the counts indicate that Annangrove and Kenthurst Roads were operating as intended. It does not include the North West Growth Area (my question here is: As per Ray Williams, this was planned 30 years ago…why wasn’t the infrastructure planned as well?)
• Covid has seen a 50% reduction in public transport patronage across the entire Opal card Public Transport network, therefore traffic around schools has increased significantly
• Principals of the schools are aware of the problems, but there’s a limit to the effectiveness of regulations (drivers just don’t abide by the new rules)
• 2 initiatives of Council regarding Annangrove and Kenthurst Roads long term: 1. Reclassification of the route as a State Arterial Road which means responsibility is simply shifted to Transport NSW (formerly RMS) – this is a priority. This reclassification would “recognize” the high traffic volume (I think we have “recognized” this a long time ago…) and would provide increased opportunities for the State Government funding. The financial burden placed on the Council to manage these roads, is unfair. This is a proposal only and experts will receive advice on the outcome of this proposal next year. 2. Council’s Hills Future 2036 – establishment of a bypass of Kenthurst Road and the Round Corner Village to directly link Annangrove Road to Old Northern/New Line Road. This is a considerable time away.
• Coulter Swimming School: A development application and modification (Section 4.55) by Coulter from 2010 (!) for 58 new car parking spaces was approved in 2010, but Coulter did not proceed. The undertaken works on the site did ensure that the application is still active until now. Legally Coulter can build 58 new parking spots. Since the application was approved 10 years ago and is still active, they can legally proceed, no matter how much the traffic has increased.
• Load limit enforcement: In short – it is not possible for Council to patrol the entire load limit network as the Community Safety and Compliance Team members must follow each heavy vehicle for the entire route in order to establish if it was legitimate. Regular patrols of Bannerman Roads are undertaken and so far 40 offence notices have been issued in 2020
• Bus 641 route: The “majority” of those services are apparently in morning and afternoon peak periods (Personal observation: with 4 services a day to Round Corner, I am yet to find the peak hour ones)
• Bike paths: Council has an extensive shared path network, also along sections of Kenthurst, Annangrove, Pitt Town and Porters Road (if someone could enlighten me where those are, I’d be very grateful) and Council is continuing to “actively pursue opportunities to increase the extent of its shared path network…” but it’s not a priority.
In short: nothing will change. However, I will pursue the bike paths and bus route issue into the coming year and as usual: feedback, suggestions and comments are welcome via email & facebook direct message. Merry Christmas from my family to yours and let’s hope for a safe and healthy 2021!