Diversion disaster

• Petitioners want this trial barrier at Leake Street and Alma Road removed, saying it’s only made surrounding streets and laneways more dangerous.

A ROADBLOCK intended to calm traffic has proven massively controversial in a North Perth neighbourhood.

Already a huge petition is building, calling for the obstacle’s removal just weeks after Vincent council installed it.

The trial barrier diagonally blocks off Leake Street and Alma Road, forcing traffic going along either road to take a turn and find some other way around. 

A small number of residents nearby supported the plan, hoping it’d calm traffic in their street, and some thought it might encourage people to walk or ride if they only had a short trip to make. But most of the neighbourhood was dead against it. 

“It’s moving more traffic towards the primary school and the old people’s home,” at a time when the primary school doesn’t have a crosswalk attendant due to a shortage, resident Nuccia Merlo tells us.

“It’s added a lot of confusion,” fellow resident Laurie says. 

“The biggest issue is it hasn’t achieved what it’s supposed to; to deliver traffic onto distributor roads.” 

It’s just shifted the traffic into quiet streets. 

The alternative routes can get pretty convoluted. Many people who used to drive up Alma Road to get to the Fitzgerald Street shopping strip now have up to four extra corners to take in a diversion that’s just shy of one kilometre. 

In the first few days some cars avoided the diagonal barrier by driving over the footpath. Hefty plastic barriers were put in place to stop that. Other drivers have opted to navigate North Perth’s narrow alleyways instead. 

The diagonal roadblock was a subject of staunch disagreement when Vincent’s councillors narrowly approved it last August, with mayor Emma Cole and Crs Alex Castle and Ashley Wallace voting against the plan but outnumbered by the majority.

At the time, 85 people responded to consultation about the idea, with 77 per cent opposed. The council’s traffic experts also reckoned it was a bad idea and would likely divert traffic onto less-capable streets.

But Crs Susan Gontaszewski, Ron Alexander, Dan Loden, Suzanne Warner, Jonathan Hallett, and Ross Ioppolo approved a six-month trial of the diagonal diversion, largely to try something out to respond to a longstanding request from Alma/Leake residents dating back to 2018 when they’d asked for some relief from cars.

The Voice heard from a couple of residents on the street who supported the trial. One asked not to be named due to angry comments about the roadblock (and its supporters) on suburban Facebook groups, but the resident said “this has been a dangerous intersection with drivers ignoring stop signs and, because of the dogleg structure, driving down the wrong side of Alma Road,” plus a lot of heavy trucks using the smallish Alma Road.

The resident said the diagonal block had indeed calm traffic at the intersection, but acknowledged it was inconvenient to some in the area. 

The trial cost was estimated at $35,000 to $60,000. We asked Vincent council if the cost had been tallied yet, and if there was any traffic data that showed where cars were being redirected to, but CEO David MacClennan says those numbers aren’t yet known.

An online petition started by residents Leon Firios and Melanie Buters now has 420 signatures calling on the council to remove the diversion, and they’re planning to present a petition in person at the next council meeting.

It’ll probably cost about $15,000 to remove, but a lot of locals were sceptical that this was really a “trial” since the concrete looked pretty permanent. 


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