By Matthew Benns
March 26, 2006
SYDNEY'S traffic experts are unanimous: our city is grinding to a standstill.
Roads are gridlocked with bumper-to-bumper traffic and what was once a "peak hour" now stretches from 5am until after 7pm.
The Sun-Herald sought the opinions of eight radio and television traffic reporters who spend hours every day monitoring Sydney's clogged road network. They agreed that the chaos on Sydney's roads was getting worse.
"Sydney is basically bumper to bumper all day long," Australian Traffic Network spokesman Justin Kelly said. "We see the build-up start at just after five in the morning and not let up until 7.30 at night."
The company provides Sydney's commercial television channels and nearly all of its radio stations with live reports from its base at Bankstown Airport. On-air reporters are fed traffic information from the network's helicopter flying over the city and a reporter monitoring cameras in the Roads and Traffic Authority's traffic control centre.
"We also get calls from members of the public," Mr Kelly said. "Very often we are aware of accidents before the emergency services."
Veteran traffic reporter Ian Wallace, who provides traffic updates to 2GB and MIX 106.3, has been reporting on Sydney's roads for 24 years.
"It is absolutely getting worse," he said. "There are more and more cars on the road and with new motorways people are getting to the ends faster and creating bottlenecks."
Traffic reporter for 2UE Paul Latter said the network always tried to provide drivers with an alternative route but it was not always possible.
"When you get a fatal accident, as we did in Mosman during the week, it causes a backlog all the way to the Spit Bridge and there really is nowhere else for traffic to go from there," he said.
Accidents, rain and fog were all factors that pushed the overburdened road network into gridlock, he added.
Another 2UE reporter, Dennis Lee, said the congestion on the roads was affecting the quality of life of commuters and their families.
"If you are trying to get somewhere, traffic jams make you stressed and make your family stressed," he said. "You are more likely to snap at some little thing."
Traffic experts say the opening of the $1.1 billion Lane Cove Tunnel - slated for May 2007 - will make matters worse as commuters attempt to avoid yet another toll.
SIX OF THE WORST
- M4: Very heavy traffic, even on a good day. The stretch from St Marys to Eastern Creek is particularly bad. Made worse by other roads feeding into it.
- F3: Worst spot is the "Big Dipper" hill into Wahroonga in the mornings and into Mount Colah in the afternoons.
- Victoria Road: From the Gladesville Bridge to Anzac Bridge.
- Spit Bridge: Bottleneck for everyone from the northern beaches and stays solid all along Military Road.
- Parramatta Road: Just about anywhere.
- Epping Road: Extremely heavy from North Ryde along the Gore Hill Freeway to the harbour crossings - bridge and tunnel.
Source: The Sun-Herald
And here is the Traffic reporters' view about Sydney traffic, also from today's Sun-Herald.
March 26, 2006
Natasha Gray. Reporter for 2CH, C91.3, STAR104.5, i98. Traffic reporter since 1997.
"It is getting worse. We are just running out of space. The NSW Government is trying to improve things by digging tunnels but the roadworks they create are making things worse. The Lane Cove Tunnel roadworks are causing a lot of dramas. We just have to accept queues in Sydney as a way of life."
Warren Purchase. Reporter for 2SM, WAVE FM, NXFM, POWER FM, 2LT. Traffic reporter for 2 years.
"I cover traffic for a lot of rural centres and Sydney is obviously the worst. It is more structured around peak hours in the country whereas in Sydney there is always heavy traffic somewhere. I think public transport could be the solution but it needs a lot of work before people will be tempted out of their cars."
Alf Paranihi. Reporter for Channel 7 Sunrise. Traffic reporter for three years.
"Congestion gets really bad during rain or fog or when there are accidents or breakdowns. The Cross City Tunnel and Lane Cove Tunnel areas are much busier than they were two years ago. Also the introduction of the new motorways such as the M7 has caused bottlenecks of traffic."
Brian 'Sando' Sanders. Reporter for 2DayFM and Triple M. Traffic reporter for 12 years.
"It is getting worse and worse. Everywhere there has been development, with land opening up and people moving in, the traffic has put enormous pressure on Sydney roads. Out on the Old Windsor Road for instance it is always busy. Where the M7 and M2 merge it is also very busy. In the mornings the M4 is progressively getting worse."
Dennis Lee. Reporter for 2UE and MIX FM. Traffic reporter for 1 years.
"There are bottlenecks everywhere caused by the weight of the traffic. The frustration the traffic is causing is affecting everybody's quality of life. You get upset at the traffic jams and take it out on people. We don't chill out, instead the frustration snowballs and Sydney becomes a less pleasant place to live. This is why incidents of road rage are on the increase."
Ian Wallace. Reporter for 2GB, C91.3, MIX FM and WSFM. Traffic reporter for 24 years.
"It is absolutely getting worse. There must be 50 per cent more cars on the road than when I started. They are travelling on motorways, getting there faster and being fed into bottlenecks. The Lane Cove Tunnel is going to be the biggest problem when they close Epping Road from three lanes to one to feed into the tunnel. Motorists will want to avoid paying another toll - it will be chaos."
Geoff Wallace. Stand-in reporter for all networks. Traffic reporter for a year.
"It's stuffed. It's horrendous and I put it down to low interest rates. There is more money around and every household has four cars. Parents are buying high-quality cars for their kids because they want them to be safe. Roads in the suburbs are becoming congested because the driveways are full. It just adds up. Also the workforce has become more mobile and people are driving a long way to work now."
Justin Kelly. Australian Traffic Network spokesman.
"The demand for our service is increasing because traffic is becoming busier. With the population expanding, more and more people are going on the roads. Undoubtedly it has got worse in the eight years we have been providing this service, probably because roads are getting better, cars are getting cheaper and people are living further away from public transport. It is also noticeable that no area of Sydney is quarantined from traffic problems."
Source: The Sun-Herald