Back in 1964 looking south from Theodore Street Curtin were empty sheep paddocks stretching as far as the eye can see. The landscape was a blank canvas devoid of any existing structures and few geographical difficulties. Unlike Sydney there were no engineering problems posed by landscapes as challenging as the Blue Mountains, the Ku-ring-gai Chase and waterways. There was an opportunity to build something magnificent, something world class and a chance for Canberra to proudly create an innovative city worthy of the twentieth century and beyond. It could have been a role model for later Canberra neighbourhoods and cities elsewhere. Regrettably we got the sad road system that still exists today – Hindmarsh Gridlock, the Yamba Glacier, Smelrose Crawl and the Drakeford Dyke The only straight line east west road of any decent length in South Canberra is Hindmarsh Drive…whatever were they thinking?
The road planners have now inundated Canberrra with hundreds of sets of traffic lights, and the notion of a ‘green wave’ such as that experienced in Sydney and Melbourne is totally non-existent in the ACT. In fact it is the opposite. Canberra drivers are forced to stop at each set of lights. These primitive two way intersections festooned with outdated timed traffic lights allow up to twelve different traffic flows at each intersection. Usually the green light is so short that only a handful of cars get through an intersection. On other occasions a green light shines on a road completely devoid of cars. I understand that Sydney has over 2000 modern traffic lights which intelligently change lights to manage actual traffic flows. Why doesn’t Canberra have such an efficient system
Since the 1950’s cities all around the world have introduced one way traffic to overcome increasing traffic congestion. A well designed grid system of one way roads south of Yamba Drive could have reduced traffic directions from twelve directions to four directions….straight ahead and right OR straight ahead and left.
Canberra’s wide roads have progressively been officially vandalised by reducing two and three lanes to the dreaded “Lane one Form” format and an (often car sized) bike path. The volume of cars in Canberra is constantly increasing yet our road capacity is effectively cut in half. All this adds to ever increasing amounts of stress and petrol consumption (due to much longer travelling times). Canberra has become just a place waiting for accidents that have to happen.
Pale neutral coloured concrete impediments have also been introduced on the gutterside of many suburban roads. These can be difficult to see, especially at night, as evidenced by skid marks traversing such aberrations. We also have the addition of multiple steel poles with helpful notices advising motorists to keep left to avoid concrete hazzards.
I am sure that many Canberrans would be interested to know what road improvements the ACT Government has in mind to remedy the gridlock situation in South Canberra and elsewhere. Where is a stimulus infrastructure program when you really need one?
Is the ACT Government considering implementing one way roads to reduce traffic directions down from twelve directions down to two directions? Are they considering longer left and right exit lanes? Are they planning underpasses or overpasses especially over congested roundabouts? There are too many issues to list here but I do think Canberrans deserve some answers.