OUR SAY: Decade of efforts must come to a head soon

RECENT efforts to improve safety and flow around James Sheahan Catholic High School have not come a moment too quickly.

For anyone familiar with Orange’s roads, this section of Anson Street is one to avoid at peak school times due to the flurry of parents dropping their children off or picking them up, students in cars arriving, buses coming and going, normal commuter traffic heading to work and students on foot running the gauntlet in among it all. 

So for NSW Roads and Maritime Services to look seriously into solutions for the school is a huge step.

No doubt the imminent closures in Forest Road while the rail bridge is duplicated are playing a role here.

Work will continue on the bridge for 12 months once it starts later this year.

The existing bridge will be kept open to southbound traffic as much as possible, but northbound traffic will need somewhere to go.

Unless they go through Leewood, Anson Street is the only option. 

The number of cross streets and the RMS’s reluctance to impose marked pedestrian crossings aside, the fact that there is no pedestrian crossing for students is astounding. 

Every school in the CBD has one directly out the front or a short way down the street.

We would question previous findings indicating that traffic volumes did not justify a crossing for James Sheahan considering that higher traffic rates would occur during very concentrated times of the day, the road is narrow and the quality of the flow at those peak times is such that motorists do everything possible to avoid the area. 

More traffic started using Hill Street after the dip near Margaret Street was removed and no doubt more people would frequent the stretch if conditions improved.

Previous efforts to extend Anson Street to the future Southern Feeder Road will only be advantageous in the long run if it can be used.

But there may still be a problem even if a solution is reached – one past design never made it to fruition because the school did not have the funds.

Given the school has said it would not pay for the work recommended at the end of this process, the same hurdle may arise. 

Some grit needs to be shown by all parties involved to make the solution work, in the form of dollars.

It is not only students’ safety at stake, but motorists and bus drivers too.