The 80km/h speed limits either side of Braidwood on the Kings Highway are costing $400,000 in lost productivity each year, according to Eurobodalla Shire Council’s Director of Infrastructure Services Warren Sharpe.
Mr Sharpe, who works for the council representing Batemans Bay and Narooma, said traffic delays outside the village have a negative impact on businesses and tourists travelling through the area.
“If you’re running a trucking business and transport goods through the Braidwood area then any additional delays you encounter will ultimately have a cost impact,” he said.
The $400,000 figure was calculated by Eurobodalla council from data provided by NSW Roads and Maritime Services(RMS), and is said to take into account the length of delays, lost productivity, and the number of vehicles using the road.
“When we’re doing improvement projects we calculate the net benefits to the community and that includes any gains we may get in improved efficiency,” Mr Sharpe said.
But the mayor of Braidwood area council Palerang, Pete Harrison, said he cannot see how the figure could be accurate despite being derived from official RMS data.
“I also don’t see how the existing speed limit could be considered a problem given that it immediately precedes a 50km zone through the village of Braidwood,” Cr Harrison said.
“My quick calculations suggest it would take around 45 seconds longer to travel on this stretch of road and I don’t see how that is significant compared to existing delays through Braidwood.
The 80km/h speed limit was introduced in mid-2013 as part of the NSW government’s Kings Highway Route Safety Review following 38 deaths on the roads since 2000.
The speed limit now exists along 3.8km of the tree-lined road either side of Braidwood and no major crashes have been reported since its introduction.
But Mr Sharpe said the 100km/h speed limit could be safely reinstalled outside Braidwood should alternative safety measures be introduced, such as protective fences.
“We respect the fact the tress are highly valued by the local community, but there are alternative ways for the trees to remain and ensure a safe solution for all,” he said.
Mr Sharpe said Eurobodalla Council was eager to encourage more people from Canberra and Goulburn to travel to the coast by improving the safety and efficiency of the Kings Highway.
“We are advocating to the state and federal governments to get a better route to the coast because we value the patronage from inland areas and the benefits this brings to our community,” he said.