It took the death of a pregnant Canberra woman and one of her children to force a change that the Tumut community was unable to get for decades.
Khayla Reno, 29, was 20 weeks’ pregnant when she and her 10-year-old daughter died following a collision between her car and a truck at the intersection of Gocup Road, Snowy Mountains Highway and Capper Street in Tumut in early May 2020.
The same collision left Khayla’s four-year-old daughter with serious injuries as the only survivor of the fatal crash.
But it proved the tipping point for the town’s residents, who had seen enough.
And this time the listening ear of their local MP – NSW Member for Wagga Wagga Dr Joe McGirr – saw more attention given to that intersection in five months than the local community had seen there in two decades.
A petition of 2000 signatures was presented to NSW Parliament, and NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole not only visited the site in July, but ordered a priority review.
And on Friday, 9 October, the minister was back to announce a new roundabout will be installed at the Tumut intersection.
“We know the Gocup Road and Snowy Mountains intersection is of real concern for residents and road users,” said Mr Toole. “That was clear to me when I visited the intersection with the Member for Wagga Wagga Dr Joe McGirr and met with locals in July.”
He said significant improvements had already been made to the intersection, including adding advanced warning signs, vehicle activated signage and horizontal rumble strips in recent months.
“And we are committed to taking further steps to make it safer,” said Mr Toole.
“That’s why I asked the NSW Centre for Road Safety to investigate all possible safety improvements to this intersection, which has determined a roundabout will be the best solution to address safety concerns.”
Mr Toole said the roundabout will reduce approach speeds of traffic and allow for the best visibility of other vehicles moving through the intersection.
Other options investigated as part of the review were traffic lights, closing Capper Street, raising the intersection, closing Gocup Road and moving the intersection.
Dr McGirr has welcomed the planned upgrade to the intersection.
“I am glad the NSW Government has listened to the community and is treating this as a priority so we can help avoid future tragedies,” he said.
“The recent interim safety measures that have been put in place have significantly improved the safety of the intersection.
“The installation of additional vehicle activated signage on Snowy Mountains Highway this month will also make it safer for motorists, but it has always been clear that a longer term solution is needed.”
Mr Toole said Transport for NSW would now move to the design phase for the roundabout.
“We know it will need to be quite substantial in size – about 50m – so all traffic, including A-double and B-double trucks, can navigate it safely,” he said.
“We expect to have a concept design to share with the community later in the year, and will then move as quickly as we can towards shovels in the ground.”
Mr Toole said Transport for NSW is also planning to reduce the current 60km/h speed limit on Snowy Mountains Highway, between Rifle Range and East Street, and on Gocup Road, just south of Gilmore Creek, to 50km/h to slow down traffic and make the road and highway safer for all travellers.