South West death road ‘needs upgrade’

Zach RelphCountryman
Wedderburn Transport principal Mark Talbot says South Western Highway needs to upgraded.
Camera IconWedderburn Transport principal Mark Talbot says South Western Highway needs to upgraded. Credit: Zach Relph

Livestock transporters and farmers using a horror stretch of South Western Highway say it is in desperate need of an upgrade in the wake of five deaths during a gruesome eight-week period.

Police attended five fatalities from November 6 to December 21 between the lethal 70km section of the thoroughfare from Coolup to Burekup.

The harrowing spate sparked desperate pleas for the road to be widened and additional dual passing lanes added in a bid to improve safety for road-users and avoid further catastrophes.

Brunswick-based owner-operator Mark Talbot, the principal of Wedderburn Transport, said the road required urgent attention, with a noticeable increase in traffic and a lack of overtaking opportunity making the highway hazardous.

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“The South Western Highway needs an upgrade,” he said.

“After the Forrest Highway was built there was a decrease in road volume on the South Western Highway, but now more people are using it as an alternative.

“There are stretches along it that definitely need attention — I’d love to see more passing lanes.

“We do try and avoid it because it can be difficult with the traffic.”

The calls for road developments come after prominent Bunbury anaesthetist Dr Graham Dale was killed when he was hit by a vehicle while riding his bicycle on South Western Highway in Burekup on November 6.

Two days later, Trudy Clarke died on South Western Highway, near Waroona, when a Mack prime mover carrying two trailers jackknifed and collided with the 32-year-old’s sedan.

A man, who police said was in his 20s, died when a sedan he was a passenger in rolled on the rural road in Brunswick on December 4 about 11pm.

It came only five days before a 19-year-old man died when his sedan collided with a tree while travelling south on South Western Highway on December 9.

On December 21, a 28-year-old Waroona man also died when the wagon he was driving struck a tree after veering off South Western Highway while approaching Tallathalla Road, near Coolup.

Benger dairy farmer Grace Tartaglia said there was an increase in traffic along the busy road, especially near the small milk-producing town, and drivers’ safety had to be paramount.

“It is a very busy road and it has a lot of traffic, including trucks and sometimes tractors,” she said. “There needs to be something done about it to make it safer — it’s not wide enough and very dangerous.”

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti identified multiple road developments completed on the South Western Highway over the last decade and said future works were planned.

Last October the McGowan Government announced a $3.3 million allocation to upgrade the South Western Highway, between Waroona and Brunswick.

This includes a $2.4 million project to widen and seal shoulders to 2.5m, remove vegetation and install barriers at various locations along the road from Wokalup to Brunswick.

A $900,000 investment will also be made to improve the highway from Waroona to Yarloop.

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