Melbourne News and events

Chaos reigns

Citylink at Heyington, 11:03amSo today we’ve had the Citylink tunnels closed due to a fatal crash, a gas leak in Malvern causing the suspension of Frankston and Dandenong trains, a big grass fire in Sunshine, and vomit-inducing fumes last night at a restaurant in Doncaster.

And I heard a truckload of (non-flammable, apparently) orange bottles spilled all over the Nepean Highway.

Did someone put a curse on the city or something?

Of course the problem with the tunnel and the ensuing traffic chaos is that we let (or even force, by not providing any alternative) so many people to travel by such a ludicrously inefficient (and vulnerable to accident) means in the first place.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

11 replies on “Chaos reigns”

And tonight all of west Melbourne is blacked out. No Traffice lights on Spencer street or Victoria Street, Many restaurants had to close! I think there was a curse on the city, but maybe the drenching rain will wash it all away!

Yikes, a nightmare of a Friday for Melbourne indeed. Wow, that’s very scary to be in a tunnel with a truck on fire, and the fumes. Makes me think of the terrible tragedy in Switzerland with the train in the tunnel. So sad. Hopefully not too many days will be this bad!

I still like the solution to the leaky tunnel proposed when the Collins class subs were found to be, er … lacking: let the tunnel flood and run a ferry service with the subs!

Andrew, another tunnel (or whatever) wouldn’t help. As you’ve said yourself, each new freeway fills up with traffic. If anything went wrong again, it would still be gridlock. (Unless of course we build it but keep it closed until an incident occurs… not likely!)

On the subject of the Burnley Tunnel…
On March 3rd, I was side-swiped by a truck on the Westgate Freeway, about 1.5km from the tunnel. The driver was oblivious to the fact that he had smashed my car, so I followed him, tooting my horn and flashing my lights. When he finally noticed me, he pulled over……1/3 of the way into the Burnley Tunnel. And he wondered why I refused to get out of my car…….

How is it that normally intelligent people can say blithely that you cannot invent enough roads? That any roads invented will immediately fill up with cars. It’s ludicrous. It’s emotive and only provokes emotive responses (like this one… ;->). There are only so many cars – and surprisingly to some, cars aren’t related to the rabbit.

Surely if you want to be taken seriously a better argument is how many roads are too many, how much you want to spend on not having more roads and work around that. At least it gives you a solid basis to work forwards from.

Not Telling: Induced traffic is a well established fact. No, the number of cars isn’t infinite, but in urban areas, it way exceeds road capacity. Unless you bulldoze entire cities to literally fill them with roads, you’ll never have enough road space to fulfil demand. And if you do do that, nobody will want to live in those cities anyway.

Or to put it another way: show me a freeway in a city, anywhere in the world, that hasn’t filled up within 10-15 years of it being built?

Our train system is the same though. It’s full now, and when it’s expanded, presumably the city will continue to expand too. That will mean the expanded train system will fill up as well. More trains or larger trains could fix that, but in the case of roads we could fix it with more buses and larger buses. Any transport system will fill up if there is unfettered expansion of the area it serves.

It is obvious that Melbourne’s road system was not finished before those tunnels were built, and still isn’t finished now with its ring road incomplete. To finish those roads would improve road traffic substantially, but would need to be complemented by completion of the rail network by the construction of a ring line and at least one more radial line, and the extension of some radial lines.

To properly solve the problem for future, it will be necessary to construct new city centres and take a lot of the load off Melbourne. One way to do this would be to build an airport, a major sea port, and high speed rail lines to, the Dandenong/Hastings area. This would reduce demand for commuter travel to Melbourne from eastern parts of the current metro area. Alas, the plan for increasing the capacity of the Port of Melbourne seems to be a signal that Melbourne is still the focus. We can therefore expect even more truck and car traffic as a result.

Road/freeway systems are never “finished” though. There’s always some other link being eyed off. If the E-W tunnel under Royal Park is built, the road lobby will push for the NE Ring Road. Then the Frankston Freeway. Then the Dingley Freeway. Then the Healesville Freeway. It goes on and on.

The difference between continuing to build freeways and putting the money into railways instead is: railways are cheaper, and when you get a lot of people using them, the impact on the environment is much, much less. Like the improvement of all PT and sustainable transport modes, they encourage people to travel more cleanly.

There is some talk of a second port at Westernport. Yeah it’ll be interesting to see if this takes off. I doubt they’d put a major airport down that way though — isn’t there plenty of spare space at Tullamarine and Avalon?

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