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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Traffic data flawed

The traffic and evacuation management study commissioned by the Shire of Denmark used flawed data to assess the necessity of a second bridge for emergency evacuations. Despite the Shire’s 2011 Local Planning Strategy indicating the need for the additional bridge, the matter was dismissed in 2018 after consultants GHD conducted a report.

In 2019, the Shire allocated $4.291 million from Royalties for Regions funding for the second bridge project but received only $2.5 million, diverting the remaining funds to upgrade Greens Pool. The Denmark Shire Council faced difficulties in selecting a site for the second bridge as part of the $14.3 million Denmark East Development Precinct Project announced in 2015.

GHD’s study, termed the Denmark Traffic and Evacuation Management Study, projected increases in traffic volumes based on sampled wastewater and water consumption, assuming a population increase of 600-1200 people. However, using wastewater to estimate visitor numbers is flawed as the sewerage system only covers the central part of Denmark townsite.

Contrary to GHD’s findings, Tourism WA’s Fact Sheets indicate Denmark receives 177,000 visitors annually, with 29% arriving with caravans. The GHD study suggested that everyone could evacuate Denmark via the existing bridge within 1.5 hours, yet crucial data such as turn counts and time surveys were omitted.

Concerns were raised about underestimating population growth, with projections indicating a potential population of 6800-7800 by 2036. The GHD study assumed 20% of the population would evacuate within one hour, with 4500 evacuating in 1.5 hours, assuming no traffic complications.

While the Great Southern Development Commission proposed funding for a second bridge in 2016, focusing on emergency exits, the project was later split, with funds diverted to other infrastructure projects. Despite these challenges, the need for a second bridge remains crucial, particularly for emergency situations like bushfires.

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