Euston-McEvoy-Lachlan: ‘connectivity’ carnage!
The Roads and Maritime services (RMS) opened community consultations on the Alexandria to Moore Park Connectivity (Euston-McEvoy-Lachlan) upgrade in December. RMS fliers encouraged attendance at community consultations (within days) at a back-street venue (far from public transport) in another suburb. Worse was the sense of spin and disingenuous objectives: improving local intersection functions, traffic flows and providing better pedestrian and cycling access. It’s all for residents, it seems!
Downplayed, however, were the facts, the scale and the WestConnex connection. NOT stated is the actual traffic increase expected on the Euston Road to Lachlan Street corridor from 6,000 (current) to 63,000 cars per day. The main driver of this staggering traffic increase is the WestConnex on- and off-ramps at Euston Road, Sydney Park.
Imagine 63,000 cars. 63,000 cars is the volume of traffic on Parramatta Road in Haberfield. Parramatta Road at Haberfield is a six-lane clearway.
The current proposal for the Euston-McEvoy-Lachlan corridor proposes intersection improvements (uniting the McEvoy, Bourke, Lachlan intersections) and initially widening Euston Road to six lanes – but only from the Sydney Park end to Maddox Street, Alexandria. But there the bottlenecks and the madness begins.
Four-lane roads and intersections that don’t cope in current peak-hours will lock up with a ten-fold traffic increase. Bus commuters will also be caught in the snarling traffic stand still. Economic dislocation and lost productivity from extra commute times will soar. And no one will benefit.
Examples of road chaos can be clearly foreseen. The proposals eliminate the current car right-hand turn from Euston Road (westbound) onto Sydney Park Road. This forces Newtown, Marrickville or the Princes Highway traffic to either continue straight to Campbell Road (before looping back on the Princes Highway) OR, (more likely) diverts traffic onto Fountain Street to try Erskineville Road. But Fountain Street, Mitchell Road and Erskineville Road barely move now in the current peak, with motorists frequently queuing around corners, blocking intersections on the change. Secondary roads simply have no capacity to absorb more traffic.
What of left-hand peak hour turns into Wyndham Street, right-hand turns onto Botany Road, right- and left-hand turns onto Elizabeth Street: all are roads to nowhere. Inducing more traffic onto already over capacity roads seems optimistic. But is it? Is it optimistic, negligent or Machiavellian?
RMS staff have admitted that no detailed traffic modelling for the area road network associated with these changes has been done. No air-quality monitoring of current pollution levels has been locally conducted.
Why has the RMS not done detailed Traffic and Air quality monitoring studies prior to dumping more traffic on inner-city residents? Do they know that protecting air quality, managing congestion and stopping road network gridlock are simply insoluble problems if traffic increases? Are they inconvenient truths, best ignored?
RMS will also not confirm a plan to widen the whole Euston-McEvoy-Lachlan Road road-reservation corridor into a high-speed, six-lane road. Yet the “shape” of the RMS vision can be guessed at: more road widenings for higher traffic volumes, leading to more clearways, less parking, and fewer turn and pedestrian options. These planning choices keep traffic moving, but they prioritise the needs of cars to transit through neighbourhoods over the people that live in them.
Clearly there is an immediate need for transparency and detailed information. RMS community consultations are a sham unless they represent the actual traffic volume increases and how they actually impact our neighbourhoods, street by street. RMS has to detail if increased air pollution will impact residents’ health. And the RMS must state the relationship of these changes to longer-term plans for inner-city traffic management.
As for the state government, transport planning surely must be a holistic, not departmental, process. The NSW government must revisit the decision to not provide Metro services on the five-kilometre Redfern-Sydenham Metro gap. Stations at Alexandria, Green Square and St Peters would take cars off roads, improving traffic flows and connect workers in the west to universities, schools, hospitals and the high-job growth corridor. An Alexandria Metro station would alleviate the Erskineville station overcrowding nightmare, service a ballooning local population and integrate rail to the bus network. The inner-city cannot be both the highest population density victim of the urban growth agenda and denied the mass-transit solutions required to service growth.
A Parramatta Road type traffic sewer is bad news for inner-city residents. Residents should inform themselves of the facts, and interact with the RMS community consultation process.
The Alexandria-Moore-Park connectivity project team can be contacted on 1800 875 557.
ARAG (Alexandria Resident Action Group) will present on the Alexandria to Moore Park Connectivity upgrade at the next community meeting on Wednesday March 8 at 7pm. All are welcome at Alexandria Town Hall, 73 Garden Street.