Remember the Dingley Bypass?
The western end was built as the “South Road Extension” as two lanes (one each way) just last decade. It mostly wasn’t dual carriageway, but it was otherwise suspiciously freeway-like. Having appeared in the 1969 freeway plan, it wasn’t difficult to see that it would be expanded.
Sure enough in 2010, it was announced it would be expanded to four lanes (two each way).
Fast forward to March 2016 when it opened… and somehow it’s become six lanes (three each way). Classic salami tactics!
Sow roads, grow traffic
So wouldn’t making a road three times as big be likely to lead to problems on the roads it connects to? Why yes.
What a surprise — it seems South Road now has congestion problems:
Having fed lots more traffic into South Road, what can they do? Currently through Moorabbin it’s six lanes (three each way, but with one taken by parking). They could try and fix this bottleneck by imposing clear ways — effectively expanding traffic capacity by 50% and leaving a long mostly residential stretch of the road as a huge six lane traffic sewer. Eugh.
Making the environment even more hostile to pedestrians, bus/train and bike users sounds like a great way to produce even more traffic. (The intersection of South Road and Warrigal Road is horrible.) And it would probably just move the bottleneck elsewhere. Nepean Highway next for widening, perhaps?
Even with no more road expansion, more traffic lights might be needed to help pedestrians and cross traffic now that the road is more congested — especially at the eastern end around the Sandbelt Hotel. (Somewhere I saw an online petition for a pedestrian overpass; I can’t find it just at the moment.)
Meanwhile, the main bus route along there is only every 20 minutes on weekdays (including peak hours, when it no doubt gets stuck in traffic), and every hour at night and on weekends. Most other suburban routes run even less frequently — generally only every 30 minutes on weekdays. No wonder so many people are driving.
I don’t know quite what the solution is. But I do know that free-flowing urban traffic is a myth. At least if there’s a bottleneck now, it’s preventing traffic levels growing even more.
Ways have to be found to move more people around the suburbs them each bringing a two tonne chunk of metal. Expanding road capacity further is the last thing we should be doing.
- Have your say: Vicroads South Road Traffic Study