Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010
THE Murrumbeena Road/Neerim Road railway crossing is officially Melbourne’s most frustrating stretch of road, taking out top spot in the 2010 Redspot Survey.

A record 8000 nominations – 1500 more than in the previous survey in 2008 - were received during the seven-week survey, reflecting the increasing frustration of road users with congestion and stalled traffic.

This year, six new Redspots have been identified as the public’s most hated roads. The remaining four sections of road listed in the top 10 are repeat offenders that featured in the last Redspot Survey in 2008.

Missing from this year’s list is the former number one Redspot holder for several years, the notorious Springvale and Whitehorse Roads intersection in Nunawading. A $140 million grade separation of the Springvale railway crossing at Nunawading last year has resulted in this long-standing congestion Redspot dropping of the list altogether.

RACV Chief Engineer Traffic and Transport, Peter Daly, said the upgrade at the Springvale Road level crossing was proof that the Redspot Survey worked.

“The public used the Redspot Survey to voice their extreme frustration with the continuous problems experienced on Springvale and Whitehorse Roads and their concerns were heard, resulting in a great outcome for those who use this intersection,” said Mr Daly.

“However more must be done. Railway level crossings have featured prominently in this year’s Redspot Survey. The State Government’s Victorian Transport Plan promised a program of $440 million over 10 years for railway crossing grade separations but this barely scratches the surface.

“RACV has called on the State government to fund a program to eliminate all major railway level crossings in the metropolitan area by committing to construct a minimum of five overpasses or underpasses per year. It’s time the State Government committed to this schedule and relieved road congestion for Melbourne road users.”

Mr Daly said RACV will discuss the Redspot Survey results with VicRoads, local councils and the Department of Transport in an effort to fix the congestion issues raised by the public.

“In the 10 years since this survey begun, congestion on Victorian roads has grown significantly. In 2020, just 10 years away, the avoidable costs of congestion are predicted to rise to a staggering $6 billion across Victoria* and it is businesses and the community who will end up paying for it,” said Mr Daly.

The Redspot Survey, conducted by RACV in partnership with Leader Community Newspapers, was developed to source public feedback about roads clogged by congestion that make road users “see red”.

RACV traffic engineers have conducted site inspections at each of the top 10 sites to assess what improvements could be made to improve congestion.

Top 10 Redspots 2010
1. Murrumbeena Rd / Neerim Rd, Murrumbeena

The public said: long delays at the railway crossing, poor co-ordination of traffic lights and through traffic congestion mainly during the peak hours, but also school pick-up time.

RACV analysis: this section of road has been a persistent offender. While train passengers will welcome the increased train services on this line, those travelling along Murrumbeena or Neerim Roads (including bus passengers) have to wait for up to 36 trains to travel through the crossing between 8am and 9am. The train line can be closed for 11 minutes at a time, and over 38 minutes during peak times – that’s over 60 per cent of the hour. The problem isn’t just confined to this level crossing, with nearby Poath Rd and Koornang Rd crossings falling just outside the top 10 Redspots. The best solution is to put the rail line underground to fix all three crossings.

2. Chandler Highway between Princess St and Heidelberg Rd, Alphington/Kew

The public said: delays during peak hours due to through-traffic congestion and a reduction in the number of traffic lanes at the Yarra River bridge. Cyclists also noted problems at this location.

RACV analysis: this location has featured in the top Redspots many times demonstrating infrastructure struggling to cope with modern traffic demands. Long queues form across the bridge and along Chandler Highway. Following the 2006 Redspot Survey $100,000 funding was announced by the State Government to investigate traffic issues in the area. VicRoads is looking at potential solutions including the bridge bottleneck and nearby intersections, but there is no funding commitment to solve the problem as yet. A second bridge across the river is needed and should have been built years ago.

3. Jika St / Dora St / Rosanna Rd / Lower Heidelberg Rd / Banksia St, Heidelberg

The public said: all directions are congested during peak periods and school pick-up times. The main problems are through traffic congestion and difficult right turns which occur during the week, and on weekends.

RACV analysis: the congestion isn’t restricted to these locations, with many nominations for various sections along Greensborough Hwy, Lower Plenty Rd, Manningham Rd, Bridge St and Bulleen Rd. The opening of EastLink has seen congestion in the area worsen significantly, with people most likely using these roads to travel between the Metropolitan Ring Rd and Eastern Fwy. Surveys conducted by Banyule Council show traffic in the area has generally increased following the opening of EastLink, with Jika St recording a nine per cent increase. The construction of the “missing” North-East Link between the Ring Road and Eastern Fwy, completing the Metropolitan Ring Rd, is critical to address congestion issues in this area.

4. Burke Rd between Monash Fwy and Malvern Rd, Glen Iris

The public said: long delays at the rail crossing and through traffic congestion. Peak times are the worst, although school pick-up time also features.

RACV analysis: this location has featured in the top Redspots for the third time running. The painfully slow progress of trains which crawl through the Burke Rd level crossing creates long delays on Burke Rd, regularly extending onto the Monash Freeway. Boom gates stay down for up to four minutes to allow just two trains through. Minimising boom gate down times may help traffic flow. In the last two years, works have been carried out on the traffic lights to improve their operation but it hasn’t been enough. Peak hour clearways along Burke Rd may alleviate some congestion in the short term but RACV believes an overpass or underpass is essential.

5. Stud Rd between Ferntree Gully Rd and Wellington Rd, Rowville

The public said: problems for those travelling north and south along Stud Rd during the morning and afternoon peak hours, school pick-up and evenings blamed on through traffic congestion and a reduction in the number of lanes because of the bus lanes.

RACV analysis: traffic volumes on Stud Rd decreased by around 25 per cent after EastLink opened. New bus lanes were installed in the left-hand lane on three-lane sections between Boronia Rd and Dandenong earlier this year, but most of the concerns relate to the section between Ferntree Gully Rd and Wellington Rd. Since the SmartBus 901 route along Stud Rd was introduced in March 2008, patronage on Stud Rd has increased by 70 per cent. ;Queuing and unsafe lane merges occur where the bus lanes start and vehicles try to merge with through traffic lanes. The lack of visible buses on this route may be adding to the frustration of motorists. Four bus routes run along this section of Stud Rd, but there is on average only one bus every 7.5 minutes in peak times – hardly justification for a full-time bus lane. More buses on this route would mean other road users would see them, and this would also encourage greater use of the SmartBus service.

6. Fitzsimons Lane / Porter Street, Templestowe

The public said: through traffic congestion with difficult left and right turns in all directions during the morning and afternoon peaks.

RACV analysis: traffic counts by Manningham City Council show volumes on Fitzsimons Lane north of Porter Street have increased eight per cent since the opening of EastLink leading to long queues and delays. In February 2009 the pedestrian signals north of the roundabout were upgraded to a 'puffin crossing' allowing green and flashing red times for pedestrians to be changed according to the conditions. VicRoads is investigating measures to provide buses with priority to save time for passengers and help buses run to schedule. The construction of the “missing” North-East Link between the Ring Road and Eastern Fwy, completing the Metropolitan Ring Rd, is critical to address congestion issues in this area.

7. Thompsons Rd / Western Port Hwy, Skye

The public said: delays to through traffic and right turning traffic in all directions during the morning and evening peak hours.

RACV analysis: this is the roundabout’s third time in the top Redspots and is an example of inadequate infrastructure in a rapidly developing area. The highway has also been identified as the primary road freight corridor to connect the Port of Hastings with the rest of Victoria. VicRoads has commenced a planning study along part of the Western Port Highway to identify a preferred option for upgrading the highway between the South Gippsland Freeway, Lynbrook to south of Cranbourne - Frankston Road, Cranbourne South. A planning scheme amendment to reserve the land should be exhibited in early 2011. RACV believes that grade separation of the intersection is necessary and has also called on the Government to duplicate Thompson Rd between Dandenong-Frankston Rd and South Gippsland Highway.

8. Clayton Rd / Carinish Rd / Haughton Rd, Clayton

The public said: morning and afternoon peak hour congestion and long delays at the rail crossing for those travelling north and south along Clayton Rd.

RACV analysis: 36 trains pass through this crossing between 7am and 8am each morning. The crossing can be closed for around 50 per cent of the hour, causing long queues and delays. VicRoads is investigating a number of options for improving traffic flow around the level crossings along the Dandenong Rail Corridor between Caulfield and Dandenong South. RACV believes that grade separation of the railway line and road is essential.This will also benefit those travelling on the high frequency SmartBus and other bus services along Clayton Rd.

9. Whitehorse Rd / Oban Rd / Carcoola Rd, Ringwood

The public said: congestion in all directions in the morning and afternoon peak hours. Through traffic congestion and difficulty turning right.

RACV analysis: long queues on Oban Rd because vehicles travelling through the intersection don’t want to use the right-hand lane and get stuck behind right-turning vehicles. This results in fewer vehicles getting through the intersection each time the lights are green. Significant traffic volumes on Whitehorse Rd mean that vehicles on Oban and Carcoola Rds get minimal green time. VicRoads have changed the signal times to help improve the intersection since the last survey in 2008, but further work is needed.

10. High St / Spring St / Cheddar Rd, Reservoir

The public said: through traffic congestion, long delays at the railway crossing and poor co-ordination of the many sets of traffic lights. Congestion is at its worst during the morning and afternoon peaks and affects those travelling in all directions.

RACV analysis: this location was in the top 10 Redspots back in 2002, and has re-appeared this year. It is a very complex location with a number of closely spaced intersections and a railway line through the middle. In February 2010, VicRoads agreed to review the timing and sequence of the traffic lights. RACV believes that grade separation is required to solve the congestion issues at this location.

*Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics, Working Paper 71 – Estimating urban traffic and congestion cost trends for Australian cities.

For more information please visit: RACV Redspot Survey

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