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Bridge link makes motorists ‘see red’

Tuesday, 10 February 2004

Traffic problems on Houghton Highway, linking Brisbane and Redcliffe, have been identified as the number one “pain in the neck” for motorists in a statewide survey by the RACQ.

The three-lane, tidal flow bridge received the most nominations in the motoring club’s latest Red Spots survey.

RACQ traffic and safety manager John Wikman said the rush of members seeing red over the Houghton Highway was mainly due to the trial speed reduction to 60 km/h, road capacity limitations and the lack of consideration given by authorities to another bridge crossing.

This is the third time since 1996 that RACQ has conducted a Red Spots survey.

The survey aims to identify sections of road, intersections or railway crossings in Queensland where motorists are consistently delayed and which cause enough frustration to make them “see red”.

Mr Wikman said 1200 motorists responded to the latest survey, identifying problem roads and intersections in 46 local authority areas.

In total, motorists identified 3750 significant traffic delay problems across Queensland’s road network.

Just over 50 percent of red spot nominations concerned Brisbane red spots.

But nominations were identified in most cities or shires in the south-east, including the Gold Coast, Redcliffe, Maroochy, Ipswich, Caboolture, Logan, Pine Rivers and Redland.

Regional and country red spot locations accounted for 13 percent of nominations, the most prolific of these being Cairns, Rockhampton, Toowoomba, Townsville and Cooloola.

More than two-thirds of all complaints statewide highlighted problems with intersections, while more than a quarter cited problems with particular roads.

Some seven percent had concerns about rail crossing delays.

The number one problem intersection in Queensland was identified as the junction of South Pine, Raymont and Sicklefield Roads and Pickering Street, Enoggera.

RACQ members said there were too many roads converging into this Brisbane roundabout, which could not meet traffic demands at peak times.

Two Brisbane rail crossings frustrated motorists: Newman Road, Geebung, near Robinson Road – nominated for poor linking of traffic lights, unnecessary waiting for trains, insufficient road capacity – and Cavendish Road, Coorparoo, near Temple and Clarence Streets – criticised for boom gate timing, unnecessary waiting and through-traffic congestion due to nearby signalised intersection problems.

Turning movement congestion contributed to 16.5 percent of total reported traffic problems, with members saying they experienced twice as many problems negotiating right turns compared with left turns.

Other major motoring grievances included through traffic congestion (13.9 percent), insufficient road capacity (10.1 percent), poor road design (9.7 percent) and difficulty entering higher priority roads (9.6 percent).

The top five reported sections of road were:

  1. Houghton Highway, Brighton to Clontarf (insufficient capacity, trial 60 km/h speed limit, vehicle breakdowns/accidents or problems with tidal flow system on the bridge cause major congestion).
  2. Gateway Motorway, Boondall to Eight Mile Plains (insufficient capacity, position of toll gates, merging of exit lanes from toll gates, entry ramps congested at peak times).
  3. Gold Coast Highway, Southport to Surfers Paradise (insufficient capacity, congested movements for turning and through traffic, poor road design).
  4. Ipswich Motorway, Riverview to Wacol (insufficient capacity, right-hand merge lane at Gailes a major hazard).
  5. Bowen Bridge/Lutwyche/Gympie roads, Windsor to Herston and Chermside to Strathpine (insufficient capacity, bus/transit lanes causing major vehicle congestion, too many traffic lights, blockages by buses at bus stops).

Motorists nominated the Ipswich Motorway as the number one problem road in both previous Red Spot surveys. In 2003, the Ipswich Motorway still rated highly, at number four.

Meanwhile, significant roadworks at the intersection of the Gateway Motorway and Gympie Arterial Road/Bruce Highway, Bald Hills, seem to have satisfied drivers.

This intersection raised the most complaints in the last survey but did not receive one nomination in the 2003 survey.

Brisbane’s Sandgate Road, which figured in the top seven in the two earlier surveys, also dropped off the list for 2003 and appears to no longer raise the ire of motorists since completion of the Nundah by-pass tunnel and Inner City Bypass.

Also of significance was the large reduction (from 13.9 percent in 1999 to 7.1 percent in 2003) in the number of members who cited the need to improve the timing or coordination of traffic signals.

The RACQ believes this is due mainly to the expansion of the Brisbane City Council and Main Roads linked intersection and phased traffic corridor systems.

RACQ traffic and safety manager John Wikman said the club had documented all the red spot complaints and would pass these on to relevant local and state authorities, together with the solutions suggested by members.

Mr Wikman said, while the complaints focused on traffic delays, the RACQ was concerned that these could also impact on road safety.

“Significant traffic delays can increase the potential for crashes,” he said.

“For example, poor road design, difficult right turns, insufficient green time at traffic lights and poor visibility due to parked cars, high fence lines and vegetation growth on roundabouts are motoring hazards.

“Overgrowth on roundabouts and traffic islands are especially evident where traffic calming devices have been installed. Authorities need to trim these regularly, as poor visibility can contribute to crashes.”

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