The Mirror News

Broader safety concerns than just speed for Foster town centre 

• Safety in Main Street Foster is still a concern for many local residents and shop keepers.

SOUTH Gippsland Shire Council’s idea of lowering Foster’s town centre speed limit from 50 kmph to 40 kmph has prompted the Foster Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. to call for a meeting with the Shire to discuss its broader safety concerns.

A survey of Chamber members was conducted in January 2024 following the receipt of a letter from the Shire’s Infrastructure Protection Officer Rob Jenner, which outlined the proposal and invited comments.

While the survey’s results revealed general support for a reduced limit through the shopping precinct, local businesses raised other safety matters, with the apparent “invisibility” of the existing designated Main Street pedestrian crossing high on the list.

The ongoing confusion caused to pedestrians and drivers, especially newcomers, by Main Street’s textured bitumen “non-crossing” walkways installed as part of the Shire’s street beautification works several years ago and subsequently blacked out was also cited.

The majority of the Chamber’s members also thought that the extent of the Shire’s mooted 40 kmph zone for the Foster central business district was too great, as indicated on a map enclosed with Mr Jenner’s letter.

The map of the possible zone shows Main Street’s two branches to the roundabout in one direction and to beyond the Toora Road and Kaffir Hill Road intersection in the other, the western end of Station Road to Court Street, and all of Bridge Street.

Chamber secretary Janine Best gathered the members’ remarks and prepared the Chamber’s reply to Mr Jenner “regarding the revision of the speed limits within the CBD of Foster.

“We have surveyed our membership group and have found that while we support the draft plan somewhat we feel that the issue is bigger and requires some further discussion to fully address the safety concerns the community has,” she wrote. 

“After reading the variety of opinions offered it seems that most people do support a 40 km speed zone, but there are mixed opinions about if the proposal covers too much territory.

“Most members felt that the 40km [limit] was only necessary along Main Street from Braidoss Takeaway through to Pearl Park,” the Chamber’s letter to the Shire stated. 

“A number of other suggestions have been made in relation to safety from both from our members and from the wider community who commented on the post that [local newspaper] The Mirror made on this topic.

“In order to fully collate these responses we feel that a meeting to discuss the proposal and the community’s concerns would be valuable before anything is finalised,” the Chamber’s letter read.

Mr Jenner advised the Chamber that “the project I am working on is concentrating on the 40kph speed limit proposal” and that the Chamber’s letter would be “forward[ed] to the appropriate [Shire] department to consider your other concerns and request for a meeting.”

In a further communication with the Shire, the Chamber noted that while it was understood the scope of the Shire’s current proposal covered only the 40 kmph limit aspect the Chamber wanted to reiterate its request for a meeting.

“We feel that [this] is the right time to raise the discussion about what is the best solution overall,” the Chamber’s second letter to Mr Jenner reads.

“We look forward to hearing back from you.”

The Shire has previously said that “40 kmph signage is considered suitable for Foster due to the high amount of pedestrian traffic” and that it “would complement other speed mitigating controls already in place, for example, the pedestrian crossings.”

The Chamber wants to talk with the Shire about the various ways how safety in the Foster CBD could be improved, in addition to lowering the speed limit.

Some of the ideas as identified by Chamber members include installing flashing lights at the pedestrian crossing, raising the level of the crossing itself above the roadway, ensuring better visibility leading up to the crossing, and signage so pedestrians give way to vehicles on the non-crossings.

A South Gippsland Shire Council spokesperson confirmed on Friday March 15, 2024, that the Shire “will be meeting with the Foster Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. to discuss their submission in more detail.”


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