Not long now until the Batemans Bay traffic flow reveals its flaws
For those who haven't seen the recent road works at the Beach Road/ Princes Highway bypass at MacDonalds it is a dog's breakfast. Ann Sudmalis accessed Federal money a few years ago, on the advice of council, to build lights at the Perry Street roundabout and now Council says it has changed its mind having agreed that lights there is just dumb. Next we are told they will add a turning lane from Beach Road East into south Orient Street to keep two lanes of traffic going forward towards the highway. Not a bad idea even though it will make it pretty squeezy there. But now they have pulled up the Visitor Information grass verge and corner and are putting in a turn left lane and have totally changed that section of road all together, pulling up all the grass turned it into a five laned freeway. And why? Because Council says that the new pool will attract 228,807 visits per year and the performance centre will attract a further 42,722 visits per year (that is 743 visits per day !!! ) and the intersection has to expand to meet that demand. They are now making sure that two lanes of Beach Road traffic can go straight through the intersection from Beach Road to the new centre unimpeded. Go up to Canberra and have a look at the capacity of their roundabouts of vehicles per hour. Look at Woden Interchange as a great example with an average of 62 vehicles per minute in seamless choreography without a traffic light in sight. Instead of more complex lights and more frustration why don't we opt instead for a roundabout? Did Councillor Constable have it right when he identified that it was ESSENTIAL the new bridge design retains the off ramp down to Clyde Street and an on ramp from Clyde to the highway and that the lights be removed all together at Beach Road and replaced with a roundabout.
Above: as it now stands there will be no access to or from Clyde Street because of the bridge, semi trailers delivering to Woolies Bridge Plaza will have to trundle along Clyde Street and then past the post office because they can't turn right into North Street. Interstate buses will come into north street, travel along Clyde Street, go under the bridge then turn around and come back to park outside of Innes Boatshed then also leave via Orient Street. Want to launch your boat at the southern side boatramp... then drive that down North Street and along in front of all the shops and streetscaping then under the bridge and come back the same way as well. To many Councillor Constable made sense : "Let's just stop and have a good look at all this" Did anyone listen? NO. The RMS comment to Councillor Constable's insistence for ramps from the Princes Highway at Clyde Street should be included in the proposal to enable better access to Clyde Street and to avoid traffic issues on North Street was: Ramps on the Princes Highway to and from Clyde Street are not proposed as they would cause safety issues, property impacts, and increased impacts to SEPP 14 wetlands and would require additional infrastructure on the southern foreshore. Note that this is the final determination made for a bridge that is meant to stand for 100 years into the future. They are hesitant to add additional infrastructure to get it right - why? Budgetary decisions? Didn't NSW just gain $4 billion in revenue from the Snowy Hydro scheme to be spent in Regional NSW. To those who are aware of this the frustration and disbelief builds with questions such as "So is this it - no ramps based on a decision by a public servant with no further community input to be considered? Why bother seeking public submissions then only to then ignore them? "
Councillor Constable has also expressed, along with his fellow councillors, the disappointment over the inaction by the State member to find an immediate solution to the lack of any RMS design or funding for the "Road To No Where Batemans Bay Bypass" just south of town that will, when built, take most of the traffic headaches away from the CBD. Councillor Constable has had the gumption to lay it all down and call it for what it is - that there has been a lack of any vision, a lack of any imputus or commitment to appreciating the issue as well as an absolute lack of any consultation with the community. Many believe that Andrew Constance didn't recognised in the last NSW Budget that the RMS has to step up and identify that the missing intersection for the Spine Road is key to the further economic development of the area. It isn't always about road safety. It is encouraging however to see Labor's Federal candidate for Gilmore Fiona Phillips in Batemans Bay yesterday. Both she and the Labor candidate for Bega Leann Atkinson recognise the serious issues around the bridge design, the impact of the hurried design shortfalls, the inevitable CBD traffic chaos that will be created and the need to fast track the Spine Road intersection as a matter of regional economic importance. Those watching with interest are now asking will Andrew Constance be announcing a guarantee of design and funding closer to the election - let's wait and see. And as for the old Batemans Bay Bridge? We have learn't the RMS and Council have no idea what the erosion effects will be from the new piers. We also know that the clearance height of the new bridge will be 12m (clearance for shipping is presently 20 metres above high water level.) Note: A navigational clearance of around 8.5 metres MHWS is required to allow the commercial ferry through. By the RMS report, where they received submissions saying the proposed bridge height is too low their response was that the proposed 12 metre clearance would provide uninterrupted access for around 90 per cent of existing boat movements in the area. The higher navigational clearances (14 metres, 18 metres and 23 metres) were not pursued as bridge approaches either side of the river would need to be lengthened to achieve the required grade. This would result in additional property acquisition and biodiversity impacts, as well as adverse urban design outcomes. It is important to remember exactly why we need to replace the old Bridge: The RMS clearly state: The aim of the proposal is to improve connectivity between north and south Batemans Bay and along the Clyde River. In particular, it would: • improve freight access by enabling larger trucks across the bridge particularly semi-trailers and Bdoubles (would improve reliable access to markets for businesses in Batemans Bay, would improve access to products for the Batemans Bay community providing economic and social benefits) Semi-trailers and B-Doubles can cross the existing bridge as can massive loads as we recently saw with the Dignams Creek girders. • address current poor bridge condition and reduce ongoing maintenance and major rehabilitation obligations resulting in improved connectivity and reduction in traffic delays Rumours have it that the State Government is keen to duplicate Batemans Bay bridge before the current one collapses due to concrete cancer yet there has been no evidence offered outlining exactly what is wrong and why, if it is a problem, it can't be fixed. • improve local and regional network connectivity for motor traffic (improving access to Batemans Bay CBD for residents on the north side of the bridge, including access to basic services such as medical and emergency services. improving access for residents to regional services in Nowra and Canberra, improving access for tourists to Batemans Bay which is a large industry in Batemans Bay) There is a two lane highway to the north, a two lane highway to the south and also a two lane highway to the west - by building a four lane bridge it will do nothing towards improving local and regional network connectivity - all of that exists IF THE BRIDGE remains closed. • improve journey reliability, particularly during holiday seasons (without the need to raise a lift span for maritime vessels, highway traffic would be more reliable and would avoid traffic delays as traffic waits to cross the bridge - particularly at the Kings Highway / Princes Highway intersection). If the new bridge is to only be 12m and the clearance required for the local ferry is 8.5m (which includes exhaust and antenna) why not simply have the ferry return to it's original single deck construct (the top deck is an post purchase add on) so it can sail clear under the current bridge as it used to. Many are now suggesting that by limiting the height of craft up the river to 12m with the new bridge they may as well move all the fleet taller than 3.6m to the eastern side of the old bridge and then ..... WELD THE BRIDGE SHUT thus buying another 30 years service from the "old faithful" and giving time to everyone to work out a long term Princess Highway strategy that actually has vision and is not filled with compromises.