New road shrine to safety

Local residents and state MPs gathered together last Friday to acknowledge the completed upgrade of a treacherous section of Hallam Road. From left, Roads Committee member Tony O’Hara, VicRoads representative Ray Peterson, Narre Warren South MP Judith Graley, Narre Warren North MP Luke Donnellan, Roads Committee member Vanessa Gerdes, Erica Maliki and VicRoads representative Mark Yosiffidis. 134141 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By LACHLAN MOORHEAD

A HAMPTON Park road cloaked in tragedy after two fatal car accidents claimed the lives of five people in 2009 has finally been upgraded.
A Casey community still reeling from the devastating heartbreak of six years ago this month welcomed the completion of the $40 million upgrade to the section of Hallam Road between Pound and Ormond roads where five young lives were lost in two weeks.
Narre Warren P-12 students and friends Riyani Lowen, 16, Anja Miller, 15, and Joel Brimble, 19, and a fourth teenager in another vehicle were all killed in the two-car collision at the intersection of Hallam and Ormond roads in the early hours of 28 June 2009.
A fortnight later as she drove past a roadside memorial erected for the lost teenagers, a 21-year-old woman was killed instantly when her car was hit by a B-double truck at the same intersection.
Local residents who have been campaigning for the road’s duplication since before 2009 gathered with state MPs last Friday to acknowledge the upgrade.
Work on the duplication, which was finally opened to traffic in late-December 2014, started in 2012 and saw a widening of part of the road from two lanes to three as well as the introduction of intersection and traffic signals.
Long-time Hampton Park resident Erica Maliki was the chief organiser of the Walk for Hallam Road which was held in 2010 and was attended by more than 500 people who were hell-bent on having the treacherous road fixed.
Ms Maliki welcomed the new road but insisted there was still more work to be done and more sections that needed duplication.
“The tragedy of losing five kids down that road was devastating for the community,” she said.
“Out of everything I want them recognised as the reason the road was pushed to be done.
“We did what needed to be done to save it from happening again.”
Ms Maliki, who has six children, was greatly touched by the tragedies, knowing it could easily have been her kids who lost their lives.
“A price was paid and the families involved are still suffering every day from that,” she said.
“It’s great that section has been fixed but it should have been done before.”
Emma Lowen, Riyani’s mother, echoed the sentiments of her friend Ms Maliki.
She has never gone back to the intersection where her daughter died.
“To be honest, my first reaction was that it was sad that it took the kids to die to get it to be done up to this safe stage,” Ms Lowen said.
“It doesn’t invoke anything for me but the people of Hampton Park will be that little bit safer now.
“It’s good that’s it done.”

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