Plea for crossing ignored council says, after toddler dies on ‘death trap’ road

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Dandenong’s mayor claims the Victorian government has ignored urgent calls for a pedestrian crossing at a busy intersection where a toddler was fatally hit by a car at the weekend.

The two-year-old boy was hit while with his family on Stud Road, next to the Dandenong Stadium in Melbourne’s south-east, at midday on Sunday and died at the scene. Police believe it was a tragic accident, but are still investigating the circumstances.

He was the sixth person to die on Stud Road in Greater Dandenong in 10 years, according to the Transport Accident Commission.

Greater Dandenong Mayor Lana Formosa said the council had called “for many years” for a pedestrian crossing to be installed where the fatal collision happened, out of fears for pedestrians’ safety.

“We’ve been calling for a safer pedestrian crossing here for many years, but we don’t feel the state government has shared our sense of urgency,” she said.

“I got on council because of this issue and the fact that this has happened, it’s not fair and it’s not good enough. It’s a death trap for pedestrians.”

She said the Allan government had failed to fund a planned pedestrian crossing and install traffic lights at the intersection at McFees and Stud roads, which had been designed by the council and the Department of Transport and Planning.

“It’s been shovel-ready since 2020,” she said. “That road hasn’t been touched for decades … Our community has been screaming for this for so long.”

In September, Greater Dandenong’s previous mayor, Eden Foster, wrote to Minister for Roads Melissa Horne about the planned crossing.

In Horne’s reply, seen by The Age, the minister acknowledged the council’s request for a pedestrian crossing and that planning for it had concluded.

“As you are aware, Stud Road near the Dandenong Stadium has been identified by the Department of Transport and Planning (DTP) for improvement and the Victorian Government has funded planning work to identify options to improve connections for pedestrians and other road users,” Horne wrote in the letter on October 23.

But the minister said the crossing would be subject to “funding and will be assessed and prioritised based on consideration of the government’s priorities on a statewide basis”.

In the initial letter to the government in September, Foster said funding for the crossing was “urgently required and long overdue”.

“There is a history of serious accidents on this section of Stud Road, including a pedestrian
fatality in 2018,” she wrote.

Foster said pedestrians crossed there because they could not access the stadium or playground without walking 850 metres to the nearest crossing point and then another 850 metres back along a section with no footpath.

Formoso said she has also asked for the speed limit to be reduced from 80 km/h.

“It’s a residential area. Twenty thousand kids are using the sports facility every week. You’ve got a reserve, a park, wetlands and one of the most active bike paths and no way of crossing the road,” she said.

The Dandenong Star Journal reported that City of Greater Dandenong engineering director Paul Kearsley told a council meeting in March that a safe crossing at Stud Road near the stadium was its number one priority.

Horne declined to answer questions from The Age about the mayor’s comments or when funding would be provided for the crossing.

There have been 284 deaths on Victoria’s roads so far this year, according to Transport Accident Commission data.

Road crashes are the leading cause of death for Australian children aged one to 14 and the second-biggest killer of Australians aged 15 to 25.

Police have appealed for anyone who might have witnessed the collision or has dash-cam or CCTV footage to contact crimestoppers at or on 1800 333 000.

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