Salami tactics

It’s nice to know that right from the start, freeways have shown a consistent effectiveness for solving traffic problems:

Thus, the South Eastern Freeway was announced in 1958 as the first urban freeway in Victoria – the MMBW stating that it would provide a “clear run of four lanes” …

The four-lane freeway was completed from Punt Road to Burnley St, Burnley, in 1962 and received the F-80 route marker from Swan Street to MacRobertson Bridge (Grange Rd) in 1965.

Despite being constructed primarily to relieve local congestion in Alexandra Avenue, traffic conditions in the area generally worsened.

Main Roads Victoria web site, citing Max Lay’s Melbourne Miles, The Story of Melbourne’s Roads (emphasis added)

The rest of the article is fascinating for how it describes the “salami tactics” (slice by slice) that brought about completion of the Monash Freeway, bit by bit over several decades, eventually just as its original designers intended.

Meanwhile in Dingley

Now just like the Monash before it, the F2 — uhh, I mean the Dingley Arterial is resuming its “salami tactics” creep towards freeway status. The government has announced what sounds like a widening of the South Road Extension.

Mr Pallas said the Government would direct new funding of $20 million into planning for the 6.4 kilometre four lane arterial road from Warrigal Road in Moorabbin to Westall Road in Springvale South.

This should be no big surprise. The South Road Extension is already suspiciously freeway-like, despite having been built as single-carriageway. As a rule, not many Melbourne arterial roads have sound barriers, no intersections to local streets, off-road bike paths, and pedestrian underpasses.

South Road Extension
(Pic from

Of course, the other thing that freeways have is grade-separated overpasses instead of traffic lights.

“Following community consultation, significant improvements have been made to the original proposals with an overpass of Cheltenham Road now planned in place of an intersection and traffic signals,” she [Member for Mordialloc, Janice Munt] said.

Yep, there you go. I won’t be too surprised when other intersections follow. Shame railway level crossing grade separations don’t happen so easily.

More salami, anyone?

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.

14 replies on “Salami tactics”

Daniel, if you moved your Nearmap a little bit south-southeast from the above image you will notice a trotting track and stables behind the Karkarook Park lake – we train horses there and have done for decades. Access was via where the pedestrian underpass is but they have now built an access to the blind corner where it meets the South Road extension. It has always been a shit of a road to get out on and now you can’t see to turn!!

I wouldn’t say it got built easily – the reservation and intention to build it was there in the 1950s. The proof is in the Oakleigh Drive in having a chunk of its site missing for the proposed road from the very beginning. It opened in 1955 (closed 1990, now housing)

I guess the one slice of salami at a time relates to funding availability over time.
And VicRoads are good at hamming it up.

Pieces of salami I would like to see: a railway underpass for Blackburn Road (desperately needed but just as desperately difficult to pull off) and light-rail along the Eastern Freeway. I expect I’ll have to keep dreaming about those, though.

Get over it Daniel, freeways are a vital part of our city’s infrastructure, just as the rail network is, so get over it, and live with it! You don’t hear me complain about railway lines taking up valuable space or anything like that- as I’ve said in the past, I support a decent PT system! What I don’t like is being nannied by someone who has no understanding of my travel needs on how I should travel, just as I wouldn’t do to you! As I’ve said before, your anti freeway bias hurts your worthwhile cause! And by the way- you don’t realize the hornet’s nest you’ve stirred up with Andrew S about the Dingley Freeway, he’s passionate about that one!

A thought just occured to me – we have bus lanes in Vic, why not freight lanes? After all, that’s the justification provided for many of the freeway plans (cough*citylink*cough), so if all save 1 lane were made freight only, 24/7, would it be such a problem?

@Andrew, the only reason people like Daniel (and any sensible transport planner) dislike freeways is because they in fact achieve very little. No city in the world has managed road traffic congestion by simply building more roads, and the cities that tried it (take Los Angeles, Detriot as examples) have some of the worst traffic congestion in the world.

The argument goes that spending the money on providing better alternatives that take cars off the roads would be more effective in relieving traffic congestion than simply building more road space for even more cars to then clog up

And Daniel, here’s the origin of the term ‘salami tactics’, though in a very different context, from ‘Yes Prime Minister’:
(skip to about 1:20)

Lucas, I don’t think you get the point- you only seem to think of transportation as the bulk movement of people, you forget that we are all individuals, and thus have individual travel needs! I keep saying I am all for a better PT system, but I also want a better road network. You guys only seem to think about peak hours, I’m considering all hours and all needs!

The other thing you don’t consider is this- you’re only looking at transportation as a means for people to get to and from work, or to and from the city! You’re forgetting that much commerce is done by automotive transportation- tradesman driving from site to site with their tools, couriers making deliveries, semi-trailers carrying freight, police, ambulance and firefighters getting to emergencies, etc! By denying freeways, you’re making it harder for about half the population. Not all our needs are met by public transport.

As I keep re-iterating- even though I rarely use it, I support a decent PT system, because about half (I don’t know what the actual numbers are) the populace depend on it, and it makes for a more productive city. My annoyance is that people like yourself and Daniel (and I don’t mean this in a negative way, so I apologise if it comes across like that) appear to be telling me how I should travel.

Case in point- as my friend Andrew S mentioned above, his dad trains horses for harness racing meets. We go race at Cranbourne, Warragul, Kilmore, Yarra Glen, and so on. Andrew has been big on seeing the Dingley Freeway built, because it would make driving to Cranbourne and Warragul with a horse float MUCH easier! As he said, the Freeway would start right at his stables, which would mean we could just get on to the freeway and drive straight to Cranbourne and Warragul without any traffic lights in between! If you’ve ever been in a car towing a horse float, much patience is required. the freeway would cut travel time immensely, and probably be safer all around!

And don’t just think it is one person- horse racing in general is a huge industry, as the Melbourne Cup shows, and it takes place EVERY day of the year, so it is not just “for a few horses”. The point I make is that you cannot presume what my travel needs are, as I don’t presume yours. The anti-freeway argument is just ideologically driven, and it doesn’t help your cause, in my opinion.

We do agree on one thing though, that salami tactics aren’t good- I wish we had built those freeways all in one go, as they would have been cheaper, and saved us loads of time, too!

“You guys only seem to think about peak hours, I’m considering all hours and all needs!

The other thing you don’t consider is this- you’re only looking at transportation as a means for people to get to and from work, or to and from the city!”

Have you read any of the PTUA’s policies? Their overall goal is to make Public Transport a viable alternative to most trips made by cars (which by far and large are still single passenger trips). Here’s a short quote from their website:

“In Toronto, a city similar in many ways to Melbourne, trains, trams and most buses operate every six minutes or better from 6 a.m. until well after midnight, 365 days a year. Most rail and bus services in Melbourne should run at least every ten minutes, and most tram services every five minutes or better.”

Now the reason for frequent reliable services all day is that once you have highly frequent services you can travel whenever you like, to and from where you want with the knowledge that you won’t be sitting at a bus stop for 20 minutes after you get off your tram and wait for your connection.

Obviously there are some trips that can’t be made by PT no matter how good the connections are or how reliable the service.

I’m not going to head out to play a gig by dragging a drum kit and 3 amps on a train with my band mates just as you’re not going to take your horse on a bus, but if even just 20% of the cars on the roads are gone (because the one or two passengers without luggage that would have been driving them are instead catching public transport) both you and I will still get to our destination faster and quicker in our cars/trucks/motorbikes.

A good public transport network will reduce congestion, a lot of freeways will just encourage more people to drive and will simply move congestion from one place to another.

As Lucas has pointed out, cities that have focussed nearly entirely on roads and have neglected public transport have terrible congestion and suffer as a result.

Both are required – good public transport & good roads to get directly from A to B, Frequent public transport which makes a journey 5 times longer (interconnection issues) than a direct car trip will never take-off. Simple shopping trips at the weekend are impossible without a car and decent roads to get you there.
You can’t get public transport to Officeworks easily, tho’ I’m surprised you chose to drive all the way to Kingsway, Daniel, when Highett must be closer for you.

It’s not a case of telling people how to travel, Andrew, it’s a case of providing better alternatives so that car travel is an option, but not a requirement. There are people who are always going to travel by car, for a number of reasons, of course I understand that. But if you create a public transport system that works as a viable option for people to use, then the car is no longer such a requirement for those who don’t need it.

Julian makes an excellent point in that if even a small percentage of trips now made by car are shifted to public transport, the resulting reduction in traffic is beneficial for everyone, most notably the existing road users.

People make the mistake of seeing this as a “cars are evil, let’s destroy them” type argument. It’s nothing to do with that (well ok, maybe it is for some people, but not me) it’s more to with making good planning decisions now about how our city will move around in years to come. The fact of the matter is that planning for more and more cars is simply not sustainable, we only need to look at our North American friends to determine that. What we need to do is devise a planning strategy that moves people around more efficiently, getting people where they need to go, and making the road network better for those who do need to/choose to use it, a road network NOT full of single-occupancy vehicles being driven due to the absence of a quality public transport alternative. And that quality alternative will never be achieved while public money is being spent shifting one existing bottleneck down the road a few kilometres, instead of addressing the reason that the bottleneck occurred in the first place.

This article is probably worth reading. It asks whether there’s something in the water that makes the Europeans use PT more and drive less, or if it’s the provision of high-quality PT that makes the difference.

Sure, some people need to drive because they have to carry tools or other equipment with them, but I’d suggest that doesn’t apply to most people, who will happily use whatever transport mode is the most convenient/cheap/easy and (the bottom line in most cases) quick.

@Alasdair, I usually go to Highett Officeworks; the pic a few days ago from Kingsway was when I was on my way somewhere else.

Enno, its a high flow stormwater culvert into Karkarook Park Lake, located just east of Warrigal Road (the road would otherwise cut off this flow path). There is a small bridge at Barkers Street made of precast planks for a pedestrian underpass. It is located 600 metres east of the culvert

@Daniel, aside from Smartpax I’m also part of a group that builds miniature mechanical signals/lever frames/etc for model railways, and I’ve been known to carry a full tool kit, 30kg+, on my back when riding my bike. Sure, I might be crippled by the time I’m 40, but it’s definetly possible as long as the tools are small enough.

Comments are closed.