Perth's inconsistent traffic light system must undergo an immediate overhaul to bring it into line with the world's major cities, according to former WA transport minister Eric Charlton.
Charlton, who was instrumental in the construction of the Graham Farmer Freeway and tunnel during his time as minister from 1993 to 1998, believed the city’s traffic chaos would continue until there was a shift away from strategies which were as restrictive as the congestion itself.
His call comes as urban think tank CityVision prepares today to release its findings from an investigation into the Elizabeth Quay’s project. The group’s inquiry, based on the views of 12 planning experts, reveals particular criticism on the effect the project will have on traffic in the precinct.
“There are many glaring faults with the plan,” CityVision chairman Ken Adam said.
“In particular, the traffic implications are horrific, not just for the CBD, but for all of inner Perth. We believe the project should be immediately halted and reviewed, before irreparable damage is done to the city.”
Mr Charlton, who conceded traffic problems had been compounded by WA’s sharp increase in population, was also critical about the traffic flow around the Elizabeth Quay project. But he believed the problem was more widespread.
“The first thing I would do, if I was transport minister now, would be to have a total re-evaluation of traffic signalling in the metropolitan area,” Mr Charlton said.
“The whole operation of Main Roads is based upon traffic control rather than traffic management to keep it moving. So they have stop lights and stop signs every bloody where, unlike the rest of the world and the rest of Australia.
“What we should do, as a matter of urgency, is to try and have more vehicle movements in a given period on the same network. There has to be some absolute lateral thinking take place on this to modernise the signalling system and traffic movement to enable maximum use of the current network.
“Our thinking is about as restricted as the traffic.”
Mr Charlton said there should be immediate changes to create slip lanes to allow left turns when safe at red traffic lights, as there are in Victoria, as well as providing more uniformity with red arrow signals at metropolitan traffic lights.
For example, the red arrow when turning right off Canning Highway onto the Fremantle Traffic Bridge remains lit often when there is no oncoming traffic, while the red arrow signal turns off when turning right off West Coast Highway onto Hale Road, when there are regular streams of traffic coming the other way.
He also believed there should be more bridged interchange connections on busy roads such as Tonkin Highway, while Roe Highway should be extended through to Fremantle to accommodate heavy haulage, as he had suggested while in office.
It would cut transport costs out of Fremantle port and ease traffic pressure on South Street and Leach Highway.
Transport Minister Troy Buswell said Main Roads continually monitored the operation of traffic signals, as well as developments in traffic management technology and practices across the world.Mr Buswell said Perth’s current “SCATS” system was one of the two most widely used in the world, but he was “open to looking at traffic options to improve efficiency across our road network as long as the measures are safe for motorists”.
'The West Australian' is a trademark of West Australian Newspapers Limited 2013.
All rights reserved.
Select your state to see news for your area.