Death strip will soon be fixed

A DEADLY blackspot at Balldale that has claimed five lives since 2008 will be upgraded immediately.

The Hopefield Road lacks a wide, sealed shoulder and there are trees close to the edge of the bitumen.

Both have been factors in the fatal crashes.

The member for Albury, Greg Aplin, yesterday said the $420,000 project would involve removing the trees, line marking and extending the shoulder.

“Upgrading Hopefield Road will have great benefits for the community by providing a wider and safer road,” Mr Aplin said.

The NSW government is contributing $360,000 through its road toll response program with the Corowa Council providing $60,000.

Corowa’s mayor Fred Longmire welcomed the upgrade which follows a year of campaigning by his council’s traffic committee.

“I live down that road, not quite 10 kilometres from the turn-off at the Riverina Highway, 17 kilometres from Corowa, and I found myself involved in one of the fatalities when one morning the disturbance woke me,” he said.

“And other fatalities were only three to four kilometres either side of my mailbox.

“People say it’s a beautiful stretch of road but the shoulder width on one side is pretty narrow, when you compare it with the other side and with the skills when you’re driving.

“If you go to sleep or drive off the road, there is no room for recovery.”

The work is due to start on Monday week and run for five weeks, subject to the weather.

“Motorists are asked to follow the signs, reduced speed limits and the direction of traffic controllers at all times,” Mr Aplin said.

Cr Longmire said traffic had increased on the road since the Federation Bridge across the Murray River opened in 2005 and made it a preferred truck route to Wagga.

“We will be lobbying for the reclassification of the road,” he said.

“I believe because of the traffic numbers using the road, reclassification is important so it’s well maintained.”

Cr Longmore said having Hopefield Road reclassified as a regional road would see it entitled to annual spending from the Roads and Maritime Service, akin to Spring Drive — the Corowa-Mulwala road.

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