Million dollar school crossing safety plan for Kialla West Primary

By Myles Peterson

Pleas to improve safety at Kialla West Primary School’s crossing have been heard, according to school council president Jamie Gilbert.

A meeting was held yesterday between the school, Greater Shepparton City Council and Regional Roads Victoria representatives to discuss and plan improvements to the Goulburn Valley Hwy crossing.

‘‘We’re happy with the way things are progressing and it was good to see (council chief executive) Peter Harriott in the room,’’ Mr Gilbert said.

The proposed upgrades follow a collision in September which saw three children taken to hospital, including one flown to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne with serious injuries.

The collision happened just as school ended for the day, when a truck driver allegedly failed to slow and collided with the back of a vehicle carrying the children.

Another vehicle was involved in the collision, but the occupant was unharmed.

Council’s infrastructure director Phil Hoare said the favoured long-term proposal was to construct an underpass.

‘‘The meeting was really productive,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve all got a common goal — we want to improve the safety of everyone concerned, from the kids to parents, staff and road users.’’

Short and long-term solutions were being examined, Mr Hoare said.

‘‘Regional Roads Victoria has undertaken to come back to us with more advanced warning signs (in the short term),’’ he said.

Several models are being looked at, including an overpass and underpass, with the latter the more likely outcome.

‘‘We’ve come to the conclusion that an underpass is the best long-term or ultimate solution, subject to a fair bit of consideration,’’ Mr Hoare said.

The cost — which the infrastructure director placed between $750000 and $1million — would require extensive study, he said.

Last year’s collision has motivated considerable government and political will to act.

A VicRoads spokesperson said safety improvements had been given high priority.

‘‘A safety assessment and short-term improvements were undertaken immediately following last year’s tragic incident at Kialla West Primary School,’’ she said.

‘‘And we’re continuing to work closely with the school, council and our road safety partners to explore further safety improvements.’’

State Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell raised the issue immediately after the collision in September.

‘‘Our children’s safety should be the state government’s highest priority, and the horrific collision in September last year showed the entire community that safety upgrades are urgently needed on the Goulburn Valley Hwy school crossing outside Kialla West Primary School,’’ she said.

‘‘Local families deserve safer conditions when doing school drop-off and pick-ups, but the government has wasted more than four months since the collision and squandered the opportunity to complete upgrades during the school holidays.’’