Petition on death road

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The Downs family has launched a petition lobbying for all tiers of government to work together to fix the “dangerous” Healesville-Kooweerup Road following the death of their dear son and brother Ryan last month.

The 27-year-old had been on his way to his mother’s house, travelling along the Pakenham South road, when his life was tragically cut short on Friday 13 May.

The Downs have called upon Federal Member for McMillan Russell Broadbent, Minister for Roads Luke Donnellan and Cardinia Shire councillor Graeme Moore to “fix” Kooweerup Road.

The road has seen multiple fatal collisions; two lives were lost there in the past four months alone.

Ryan’s sister Jessica Downs launched the petition shortly after their family’s tragedy, which has since attracted almost 500 signatures.

Their goal is to reach the support of 1500 people in order to take the issue to council.

In a family statement, the Downs urged decision makers to take action on stretches of road that are considered ‘high-risk fatality’ areas, beginning with Kooweerup Road.

“Residents have been demanding something urgently be done for years. There are plans in place for works to be undertaken and we have created this petition so these plans are done, and fast,” the statement read.

“Ryan, sadly, wasn’t the first to lose his life to the Kooweerup Road. There have been others; one as recently as January 2016.

“We are fighting for the upgrade on this and other roads to avoid any more heartache and pain for other families.”

The family’s campaign did not seek to shift the responsibility of Ryan’s presumed error, but to give the “next Ryan” the “chance to survive and learn from that error”, the statement urged.

“This is what happens when two lanes of traffic become one. This is what duplication of roads is designed to overcome, it prevents mistakes leading to fatalities,” the family said, referring to the confronting photos of the crash scene that claimed their son’s life.

“The photo of the truck is dramatic but, fortunately, both of the guys in it got out – what if it had been a sedan or a hatch … your car?

“The work necessary to prevent this has already been planned; this road is slated to be the main route from the ever-growing Pakenham to the ever-popular Phillip Island – there’s about to be an exponential growth in the traffic on it, but they won’t commit.

“The infrastructure exists, the plans have been formulated yet the spirit is weak.”

VicRoads said Kooweerup Road, between Pakenham Bypass and South Gippsland Highway had been flagged for duplication works but a funding shortfall had held up the process.

Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan said new road signs would soon be erected at the dangerous bend on Healesville-Kooweerup Road.

“Losing one life on our roads is one too many,” Mr Donnellan said.

“The State Government is working closely with VicRoads to reach out to the community to have a discussion about safety on Kooweerup Road.

“In the coming weeks, road safety signs will be installed, highlighting the high-risk bends along Kooweerup Road.

Investigations are also underway about the use of centre tactile line marking which will help alert distracted and fatigued drivers when they veer onto the wrong side of the road.

“We will continue to work with the community and our road safety partners to improve safety on Kooweerup Road.”

Member for McMillan Russell Broadbent also said he would be happy to take any petition to Canberra that “champions the cause for safer roads in the region”.

The Downs family’s petition can be viewed on Change.org by searching Fix Kooweerup Road. They also launched a Facebook group titled Fix Kooweerup Road.

Originally published at Pakenham Gazette.

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About Alana Mitchelson

Alana Mitchelson is a journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Follow her on Twitter at @AlanaMitchelson.

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