'Extraordinary tragedy': Black spot needs urgent attention
RESIDENTS are on edge after a second fatality on the Alstonville bypass at the intersection of Ballina Rd and the Bruxner Highway.
A 39-year-old motorcyclist died after his bike collided with a van about 4.30pm on Monday.
Sue Oeding, who lives not far from the intersection, said she was constantly on edge about incidents there.
Her son Simon rides a motorbike and both fatalities - including one in 2016 - have been harrowingly close to home for her family.
This intersection and one at nearby Wollongbar have been the target of repeated complaints since the bypass opened seven years ago.
"As soon as you hear the sirens, you hope that's not my family," Ms Oeding said.
She said a $475,000 merging lane extension undertaken in May this year had made the junction safer, but not safe enough.
She said the crest, bend and complex nature of the site all led to a high risk factor for motorists.
For those travelling at dawn or dusk, the sun glare compounds this.
"It's really hard to see and the same thing happens at the Wollongbar end," she said.
Cameron Bracken has lived near the crash zone for about seven years.
In that time, there have been about 12 crashes and he has witnessed several of them.
"When we first moved here the bypass wasn't in. Since the bypass went in, it's great ... but the accidents have just gone up tenfold," Mr Bracken said.
"It's bloody dangerous."
He said it was hard to judge the speed of traffic when attempting to merge on the highway and suggested a speed limit reduction could help.
Without more action, he said they would see "more of the same".
Jill Clark said she felt the recent upgrade had made a difference.
"The lane extension going to Ballina is excellent," Ms Clark said.
"You just have to be careful as you come in from Ballina to Alstonville."
John Singh said residents would often race to help people involved in the many incidents that occurred at the interchange.
One man, who has lived within earshot of every crash there for 30 years, said an overpass should have been built there from the start.
Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW Ben Franklin said it was an "extremely difficult piece of road".
"There have been upgrades to it this year but it's clearly not enough," he said.
Mr Franklin said he would speak to NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey and had already discussed it with Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
"Any time that we lose our life in our local community it's an extraordinary tragedy and that means that we must be looking at these issues with immediacy and urgency," he said.
Ballina mayor David Wright said he appreciated the recent upgrade, but acknowledged more needed to be done to improve safety.
"The view there is very, very difficult and maybe the solution, in time, is a roundabout," Cr Wright said.
On Monday, the Nissan Elgrand van was turning out of Ballina Rd when it collided with the Triumph motorcycle travelling east on the Bruxner Highway.
The motorcyclist was thrown from his bike, and while a doctor at the scene began CPR before emergency services arrived, the rider died at the scene.
The driver of the van was taken to hospital for mandatory tests.