Sydney’s most congested road is a stretch of the Pacific Highway in the northern suburbs along which motorists crawl at less than 20km/hr at peak periods, an analysis of government data shows.
And with Sydney’s population forecast to surge by 1 million over the next decade, major arterial routes such as the Pacific Highway and Epping Road in the north west will come under increasing pressure.
Epping Road is one of Sydney’s most congested arterial routes at peak hour. Photo: Michele Mossop
A section of the Pacific Highway between Lane Cove and Roseville has earned the title of Sydney’s most congested road, followed closely by another stretch of the same arterial route between Pymble and Wahroonga.
The average speeds for motorists in the morning and afternoon peaks on those two stretches of the Pacific Highway are less than a third of the 60km/hr speed limits.
But while suburbs might rate poorly in terms of road congestion or access to rail transport, a Domain Liveable Sydney 2016 study, authored by Tract Consultants and Deloitte Access Economics, shows factors such as access to beaches or harbour views can more than offset the disadvantages of a long journey to work.
The analysis of data from the Roads and Maritime Authority shows Cleveland Street in the inner city between Darlington and Moore Park is the third most congested thoroughfare at rush hour.
Traffic crawls along that strip at an average speed of 38 per cent of the allowable 50km/hr in the morning and evening peaks.
The fourth most clogged arterial route is Epping Road from Carlingford to Lane Cove in Sydney’s north west, followed by a stretch of Military, Spit and Manly roads – via the notorious bottleneck of the Spit Bridge – in the lower north shore at No.5.
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Georgia Sedgmen, an associate town planner at Tract Consultants, said longer times spent stuck in traffic was one of the sacrifices people in many parts of Sydney were often willing to make in return for larger properties and more open space.
While residents in suburbs such as Pymble and Epping in northern Sydney have access to train services, Ms Sedgmen said vehicle usage was high because the low-density of homes and businesses meant people were often too far from a station to walk.
“Their houses could be kilometres from a station,” she said. “You might make this sacrifice to be on a large block of land. That is the trade-off people are making.”
Ms Sedgmen said heavy road congestion could also be an indicator of a desirable part of Sydney for people to live because of the attractions of that suburb.
Likewise, the absence of heavy or light rail lines in the northern suburbs of Mosman and Clontarf did not affect their overall appeal because other factors such as harbour views or access to beaches provided ample compensation.
NRMA director Tim Trumper said motorists were unlikely to see any major improvement in a number of the city’s worst bottlenecks such as Spit Bridge for the forseeable future despite the massive investment in the state’s transport by the Baird government.
“The investment that is going into NSW right now is terrific and helpful. But it just can’t be a one-off burst because we are basically catching up on under investment for longer than 50 years,” he said.
“Sydney is a world-class city without world-class infrastructure.”
Mr Trumper said traffic congestion consistently ranked as a factor that had one of the biggest impacts on people’s lives.
“As congestion gets worse, there are health impacts – people not having enough time to go to the gym or cook for themselves. These things ultimately affect the flavour of the city,” he said.
“All of these things are a negative for Australia and are bigger than just transport.”
The Roads and Maritime Authority said construction of the NorthConnex toll road project would improve traffic flow on the Pacific Highway by providing motorists an alternative route to Sydney’s CBD, and avoiding 40 sets of traffic lights.
New and extended clearways are also under consideration for the Pacific Highway from Artarmon to Wahroonga.
The government is conducting a feasibility study into a preferred route for a tunnel to connect the Northern Beaches and the Warringah Freeway.
It is also touting the $16.8 billion WestConnex tollroad project – Australia’s largest – as a major congestion buster.
Built in three stages over the next seven years, the 33-kilometre toll road will link Parramatta with the central business district and Sydney Airport.
Roads Minister Duncan Gay said the congested state of the city’s arterial routes was “exactly why we’re investing historic levels of funding into roads and transport in NSW” at more than $20 billion this year alone.
Date: 4th August 2016
Author: Matt O'Sullivan