THE section of the Mitchell Highway between William and Peisley Streets is an accident waiting to happen, according to a local businessman.
Victoria Hotel licensee Norm Foley often sees families risking their lives crossing the busy highway to go to Centrelink.
Mr Foley said there was not enough consultation before the Woolworths petrol station and Centrelink opened, contributing to a parking shortage that meant the hotel’s car park was overflowing with Centrelink users.
“Our biggest concerns is how people get there,” he said.
“They park behind [the hotel] and walk across the road. I see people with prams, holding two kids trying to get across the road.”
Mr Foley said closing the road and making it a mall, redirecting traffic away from the area, would be the ideal situation but admitted the concept was unlikely to take off.
Orange City Council ordered a report from staff with suggestions to solve the traffic problem near the Five Ways, at Thursday’s council meeting.
Mr Foley called for a fence to be installed on the median strip to stop pedestrians jaywalking across the dangerous highway.
The pedestrian crossing at the Five Ways is rarely used because it was not marked with a zebra crossing, he said.
“People I talk to say it’s like a game of dodgems,” he said.
“Some cross the road at the rail-line.”
Mr Foley believes the Centrelink car park is too small for the number of clients, and the problem could be partly solved if land behind the government office was purchased by the council or the owners for another car park.
Council development services director David Waddell said the car park behind the office was being used by Centrelink staff.
“Management say their staff don’t want to park in Woop Woop because they’re concerned about their personal safety,” he said.
Mr Waddell said the council was unaware Centrelink would move into the building before it opened last year.
“Council couldn’t stop the development at the time it was exempt,” he said.
“The addition of Medicare on top was not something we envisaged.”
Mayor John Davis called for an urgent meeting with the department.
“[Centrelink] staff should be encouraged to park up Endsleigh Avenue near the railway,” he said.
He suggested a 20 to 30 minute time limit in the Centrelink car park could free up car spaces for clients.