View Comments

Organisers of the triathlon that led to traffic chaos in Perth yesterday say the benefits of the event need to be weighed up against the inconvenience caused to road users.

Main Roads blunder causes chaos

Thousands of people faced lengthy traffic jams after the ITU long distance triathlon world championships forced the closure of a large section of Kwinana Freeway and roads in the central business district.

Drivers appeared to have been caught by surprise when the Mitchell and Kwinana freeways were closed from the Hay Street overpass to Canning Highway from 4am to 3pm yesterday.

Main Roads have apologised for the chaos that gridlocked some motorists delaying many for more than an hour but said a Thomas the Tank Engine show on in the city and drivers using iPods rather than radios in their cars contributed to the traffic snarl.

Manager of traffic operations and services for Main Roads Craig Wooldridge admitted signs on the freeway could have been better and the event could have been advertised more widely.

He said changes in drivers using iPods rather than radio meant that getting the message through to those trapped in traffic was more difficult these days than it had been in the past.

He said Main Roads would look at the need to make event organisers pay for radio and newspaper advertising to advise members of the public about road closures for future major international events.

He said an event featuring Thomas the Tank Engine in the city may have added to the day's traffic chaos.

Triathlon Australia spokesman Jeremy Wilshire said organisers of the international triathlon championships had ticked all the boxes in getting approvals months in advance of the race.

"This is a prestigious international event where we try to showcase Perth to an international audience with minimal disruption," Mr Wilshire said.

"We are not kidding ourselves that the event didn't cause some disruption to a normal day in Perth.

"Triathlon is a very tough sport to put on."

He said similar events have been held previously in central London, Hamburg, Madrid and Washington.

"There are challenges wherever you go in trying to close roads," Mr Wilshire said.

He said the event was a one-off that was hosted in different cities around the world.

"Although there are delays on the day we hope that in terms of economic impact and exposure on the international scale that we bring something to the table."

Callers to talkback radio in Perth expressed anger at the delays this morning with one caller telling ABC radio he took 90 minutes to complete a 25 minute drive and his young daughter who was ill, vomited repeatedly during the slow drive.

Mr Wooldridge said a meeting this morning would discuss whether it was feasible to stage the triathlon championships on the same course in Perth in the future.