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VicRoads highway barriers declared unsafe in Europe - why sacrifice wildlife for them?

An article appeared in the Irish Times in 2007 about the danger that the wire safety barriers cause to motorcyclists. Back then, some countries were considering removing these types of barriers from their roads. VicRoads, in the meantime, has razed vegetation and mulched wildlife recently in order to install these barriers with their dubious safety record. (See "VicRoads mulch wildlife on the Mornington Peninsula.") No doubt someone is making a lot of money out of selling them to VicRoads. But that's no justification for clearing vegetation and injuring, killing and orphaning protected wildlife. All the less so if they may need to remove the barriers in the future because they are unsafe. The illustration in the article is taken from the Times Record News reporting a 2017 incident in Vernon Texas where a motorcyclist received near-fatal injuries on this kind of barrier. This article is based on part of one called "AWPC call for VicRoads to cease clearing plans on the Mornington Peninsula", by Eve Kelly of the Australian Wildlife Protection Council.

In 2014, it was reported ‘They are banned from use in a number of European jurisdictions: Norway, France, Denmark and The Netherlands among them.’
 
Whilst VicRoads claim that it was the CFA who recommended ALL of the vegetation to be cleared because it was a fire hazard, we find the CFA has also warned against these types of barriers. It is clear that if the median strip is not replanted and maintained, and grows weeds and grass, this also presents as a fire hazard. Along with the addition of wire barriers, these conditions create more hazards for motorists and will not make the roads safer.
“Mr Chapman warned that if a grass fire breaks out along a highway, motorists will have “nowhere to go”.
 
 
There has recently been a second wave of community outrage about the clearing of the median strip and doubts about the safety barriers. Mornington Peninsula residents feel ignored and blindsided. They feel the now barren median strip has ruined our green gateway to the peninsula. 
 
 
One community member wrote on FB (24/4/18): “Safety barriers? Really? Making what safe? Are they claiming that cars can’t drive through those horrible steel rails? To me they are simply making a mess, ruining habitat, making everything look ugly and fenced off. Seems like a massive waste of time, money and resources. Fix Eastbourne and Jetty Rds instead of this.”

And another: “Vic roads are a joke this has been the longest project for so little work done since last year. Trees were to be planted already but nothing has been done what so ever, its like driving down a tunnel with all the barriers on both sides of the road , night time driving must be hell with on coming traffic blinding the cars on the other side of the road. The whole area looks like a bomb has been dropped on it.”
Brenda Marmion of Crystal Ocean Wildlife Shelter wrote: “Travelling to Mornington on Sunday where vegetation completely cleared were two corpses of juvenile kangaroo joeys”
 
Wildlife volunteers are not satisfied with VicRoads’ response to our concerns, they have failed to communicate and adhere to the plan that they funded. There is no point in having a plan if they are not following it. 
 

Comments

When I first saw these wire barriers being put up along the Hume Highway between Albury and Melbourne (holding up traffic for ages in the process) I was furious. I couldn't see how they could help prevent injury and death and could possibly make things worse. It looked to me that a car could collide with the wire fence and be catapulted back into the path of another car. A collision into a piece of wire is still a collision and closer to the road than it would be if the car were allowed to go further off the road into a fence further on in which case the car would have possibly slowed down. Infrastructure for infrastructure's sake!

Thanks quark, you're definitely on the money with your comments regarding the wire barriers being installed on all Victorian highways. I'll contend that these barriers will not improve conditions for motorists, but could make them diabolically worse. If a vehicle runs off the road (which is bad enough in its own right), but to have it slingshot back onto the road could result in a multiple pile-up of omnific proportions. As you say infrastructure for infrastructure's sake and a waste of money, time and resources!