Waiting for a tragedy Concerns: Margarete Ritchie on the side of Brandy Hill Road early this year as trucks drive to and from the Hanson-owned Brandy Hill Quarry. Residents fear more crashes if the quarry expands.
Fatality: A car driven by a man, 27, who died at the scene of a crash on the intersection of Clarencetown Road and Brandy Hill Road at Brandy Hill on Thursday. Picture: Simone De Peak.
Warnings: Residents were horrified by the fatal crash only a week after they filmed the intersection because of crash concerns. Picture: Simone De Peak.
Expansion: The intersection where a man died in a crash on Thursday is likely to see much greater use if quarry expansion plans go ahead.
Fatal: The car in which a man died on Thursday.
TweetFacebookIt was going to happen. We knew it was going to happen.
Brandy Hill resident Margarete RitchieTraffic accident data showed five crasheswithin a 500 metre radius of the intersection within the past six years, including one fatality, with only one crashat the intersection itself. No crashes involved quarry trucks.
It recommended increasing road safety by reducing the Clarence Town Road speed limit to 80kph.
At a meeting on March 22 involving the Department of Planning, Brandy Hill and Seaham Action Group and Brandy Hill Quarry representatives, action group member Deb Fisher spelt out residents’ concerns about the intersection.
“There is insufficient time for a car to stop when a truck is passing through the Clarence Town Road and Brandy Hill Drive intersection,” she said.
While it took a loaded truck and trailer up to 20 seconds to cross the intersection from a standing start at the stop sign leading from the quarry, cars travelling at 100kph on Clarence Town Road towards the intersection had only six seconds to brake after cresting a hill at which the intersection became visible.
“There are safety concerns not only for residents but the truck drivers themselves,” Mrs Fisher said.
Mrs Ritchie said she was invited to spend a day with a truck driver several years ago when the quarry’s increasing operations caused alarm for residents because of the number of trucks using Brandy Hill Drive.
“The first thing we did was pull out of the intersection and the truck driver said to me ‘This is where I start praying’ because they pull out and cars crest the hill at speed and the trucks can’t drive any faster,” Mrs Ritchie said.
Residents strongly opposed increasing the quarry’s operating hours from 6am to 6pm to 24 hours a day, and said the combined impact of an expanded Brandy Hill Quarry and an expanded Martins Creek Quarry on roads that were not designed to accommodate hundreds of heavy truck movements a day would make the area inherently unsafe.
A record of the March 22 meeting shows Department of Planning team leader Colin Phillips told residents that “at this time it is agreed that the current intersection analysis (including the Clarence Town Road/Brandy Hill Drive intersection) is not sufficient”.
Mr Phillips also agreed that bus stops along Brandy Hill Drive where Brandy Hill and Martins Creek quarry trucks travel were “not big enough”, which Mrs Ritchie described as an understatement.
“The increase in truck traffic is enormous. The current 340 trucks per day will be increased by 505 to844 truck movements per day. At peak this will be 110 trucks per hour,” Mrs Ritchie said.
“Add to this the same number of truck movements from Martins Creek Quarry with itsproposal of 1.5million and you can see that the residents of Brandy Hill Drive will find it very hard to exist.”
In its environmental impact statement Hanson said the truck movements would have low to moderate impact on residents.
Hanson has identified more than 78 million tonnes of available material within the proposed new extraction area of more than 78 hectares.
”The ability to continue supplying the Hunter region with products from Brandy Hill Quarryensures a competitive market in the region. The high cost of transporting materials creates the need for quarries to be in close proximity to large existing markets, such as the Newcastle, Hunter and Central Coast areas,” Hanson said.
The crash on Thursday was “very sad”, and its traffic reporthad been independently assessed, a Hansonspokesman said.