Yesterday’s Monash closure showed why a “backup for the Westgate” won’t work
The Monash Freeway is 4 lanes for most of its length.
So is Dandenong Road (aka the Princes Highway), which runs more-or-less parallel to it, and was recommended as an alternate route:
[VicRoads spokeswoman Sally Pickering] urged drivers to avoid the Monash Freeway. “Try the Princes Highway,” she said.
Here’s how Dandenong Road and other nearby roads coped:
The backup route idea only works if you keep the backup closed until the primary route is shut.
Otherwise, those routes have their own traffic. Dandenong Road does; thus it struggled last night with the extra load.
Leaving aside for the moment that the proposal is too far north to be an alternative route for most, so too an east-west “Westgate alternative” would have its own traffic.
Mind you, it would still most likely not be economically viable. The construction cost, especially for tunnels, seems to have made toll roads so impossibly expensive they can’t make their money back. In the past few years, no less than four Australian toll road operators have gone bust — those running Brisbane’s Clem7, Sydney’s Lane Cove tunnel, Sydney’s Cross-City tunnel, and this week Brisbane Airport Link.
The only way the east-west motorway would get built would be to be propped-up by taxpayers (like the just-opened PeninsulaLink)… sucking up to $10 billion or more out of the budget, and away from upgrades to more sustainable modes including public transport.
A far better, cheaper, more efficient, more sustainable “backup for the Westgate” is to provide more frequent, more reliable public transport links — including the trunk high-capacity heavy rail network, but also including high-frequency feeder and local buses with traffic priority — so that as many people as possible have a genuine time-competitive choice and can get out of their cars and be off the roads altogether.
For those who don’t necessarily need to be in cars, public transport can easily move more people than motorways — it only takes about 7-8 trains per hour to shift the equivalent number of people to a four-lane road. With numerous other roads to/from the west, which can take the traffic that has to be in vehicles, there’s simply no need for an economically shaky multi-billion dollar east-west motorway tunnel through Carlton.
Ultimately, the best way of fighting traffic is to get people off the roads.