|Screen shot from WestConnex the video, June 2014|
The computer-graphics generated videos released by Baird in June showed a change of plan. Traffic from the six extra lanes of the M5 would be dumped into Enmore Road to the southwest of King Street Newtown (as far as can be made out from the vague maps) instead of or as well as Parramatta Road.
|Enmore Road Newtown|
Six lanes of freeway traffic dumped into the two eastbound lanes.
Traffic for six lanes must enter from the west-bound lanes.
Will the Enmore Theatre (left corner) survive?
Duncan Gay boasted that they were not making the mistakes of the old M5, which had steep gradients as it kept returning to the surface to provide connections to the surface road system. The "New M5" would have slight gradients for 9 kilometres from its start in Kingsgrove until it reaches St Peters. Not surprising as, in plane English, WestConnex does not connect with anything.
Mr Gay denied flatly that dumping traffic in St Peters would overload roads in St Peters and Newtown. He did not mention plans to also dump traffic into Enmore Road. He insisted that traffic would make a right-hand turn from Euston Road into Campbell Street, cross Alexandra Canal by a new bridge and percolate through chronically congested roads north of the airport to the terminals rather than use the existing M5 tunnels which provide direct uncongested connections to the terminals. This is "absurd" as the former Minister for Infrastructure Anthony Albanese has pointed out. The existing M5 also gives direct access to the container berths at Port Botany.
|Access routes to the airport terminals from the M5 (yellow arrows).|
The interchange at the bottom right corner gives access to Port Botany.
The Melbourne Cup day trifecta
You would have noted the common denominator in all the roads targeted by Baird on Melbourne Cup Day 2014: they carry all the bus services from the western, south-western and southern suburbs of Sydney into the CBD.
The never-exhibited amended EIS for the CSELR project conceded that the pedestrianisation of Chalmers Street would result in congestion at the intersection of Elizabeth Street, Eddy Avenue and Foveaux Street that was off the scale: a level of service rating of D, as bad as it can get. I discussed this in a post on June 6 Level of Public Service: D. The underlying assumptions used to predict the traffic flows in 2021 were never revealed and cannot be disputed as the RTA stopped publishing traffic-flow data in 2006. However some of the assumptions were clearly preposterous. They were claiming that traffic to the CBD would be reduced because people would find the transfers from buses to trams so attractive they would stop parking in the CBD.
The predictions of traffic flows in 2021 could not have factored in the effects that dumping traffic from the tunnels of the "New M5" into King Street, Botany Road, Elizabeth Street and Crown Street would have on bus services south of the Harbour and congestion at both ends of Eddy Avenue. There was no warning that Baird would do this until his announcement on Melbourne Cup day 2014. There must be an independent and public assessment of the congestion caused by the trams before any contracts are signed for the project. The inquiry could also consider the effects of trapping buses in a bus bay at the Foveaux Street intersection.
The WestSouthwestNorthshoreDumpz project
|The grey cliffs of Parramatta Road|
The intersection of Pitt Street and Eddy Avenue was also given a level of service rating of D but this would not have factored in the effects of the revised plans for the "New M5" and the increased length and frequency of trams demanded by Connecting Sydney consortium.
|Road train on Stuart Highway, 53.5 metres long|
The trams will be travelling slowly through the intersection of Pitt Street and Eddy Avenue as they come into or out of the stops at Rawson Place even if they are given priority at the lights. They will be crossing on average every minute at peak periods we are told. Pedestrians will be blindsided at every crossing to and from Central Station making it even more unlikely that they will reach the speeds of sixty kph between stops used by TfNSW to calculate vehicle flows through intersections and for calculating the capacities of the tram services. Buses terminated at Pitt Street will require a separate phase to make a right-hand turn into Rawson Place in order the pass through the pincer movement of death at the George Street pedestrian crossing which also has a level of service D. It is worth pointing out that the trams passing through Eddy Avenue will be largely running on empty after dumping passengers in Chalmers Street. They will be all but empty when they reach the terminus at Circular Quay.
A proper independent assessment of the impacts of the revised-since-the-EIS trams on congestion in bus routes from south of the Harbour into the CBD must be made before any contracts are signed. This can of course only take place when it is known whether traffic from the "New M5" will be dumped into Parramatta Road as well as Enmore Road and what will happen to traffic from the Glebe Island U-bend if this ever goes ahead.