WE TOLD YOU SO
By MARY MANN
WHEN Jim Cross heard the loud screech of two vehicles crashing into each other at Ballina on Tuesday evening, one of the first thoughts to run through his head was 'we told you so'.
It was about 6.30pm, and as Mr Cross sat down to watch some television at home, a black Mazda 121 and a white ute towing a caravan collided nearby, at the intersection of Kerr and Bentinck streets.
Mr Cross is one of a number of residents who say they 'warned' Ballina Shire Council an accident like this was likely to happen after it installed a central median strip at the intersection of Grant and Bentinck streets, east of the crash site.
But the council says there is no indication the accident was related directly to changes it made at the Grant/Bentinck intersection.
Inspector Mick Dempsey said the driver of the Mazda, who failed to give way at the intersection, was taken to Lismore Base Hospital with minor injuries. The driver of the ute was not injured.
"People should take care at the intersection and make sure they give way properly," Inspector Dempsey said.
Karen O'Connor, a Bentinck Street resident who took photos of the crash, said other witnesses saw the four-wheel drive flip a couple of times.
The controversial median strip blocks west-bound traffic travelling along the busy Bentinck Street from turning right into Grant Street, to head to the two major shopping centres in town.
Instead many motorists continue to the Kerr Street intersection, where the Pacific Highway traffic thunders through.
Residents said the black car was attempting to turn right out of Bentinck Street towards the shopping centres, but police were yesterday unable to confirm that.
"I get so frustrated with this. We knew something like this was going to happen," Mr Cross said.
"It's so simple, they shouldn't have pushed traffic along to Kerr Street. The intersection is dangerous."
Residents have been protesting against the median strip since the council first suggested it be installed more than a year ago.
They wanted a roundabout instead, saying the strip would only shift the problem. The council didn't have the funds for a roundabout but has since applied for blackspot funding for one.
Ballina Shire Council's civil services group manager John Truman said right turns at the Kerr/Bentinck intersection 'were there before the median strip was installed'.
"The intersection of Kerr and Bentinck streets has long been identified by council as one that would benefit from upgrade works," he said.
But it wasn't 'symptomatic' of any new trend of accident history linked to the implementation of the Grant Street project.