The recent article in the Newcastle Heraldby Amy de Lore reports that Newcastle and Lake Macquarie Councils have at last made a positive and very important contribution to the need for a ‘full interchange’ on the bypass near the John Hunter Hospital (13/7).
Anything less, (Roads andMaritime Services proposal May 2016) can surely only be for cost reduction on infrastructure with consequences for all aspects of hospital-related movements:emergency, regular treatment, medical services, visiting and so forth.
A‘full interchange’ is essential and the comment that drivers will use the hospital areas internal roads as a short cut should be taken very seriously. RMS go nowhere near alternative path modelling and nowhere near driver choice modelling.
Both councils have also made, at last, a positive contribution to the need for ramp access at the southern interchange (McCaffrey Drive). There is nomention of southbound access off the bypass, to McCaffrey Drive but councils will have been aware of the arguments put forward.
JAM: A full interchange from the Newcastle Inner City Bypass to John Hunter Hospital would provide better access to the hospital. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
The modelling appears to be inadequate from many points of view.
Survey start dates and durations were inappropriate, no household or demographic longitudinal surveys have been done,no time budget or activity analysis, no route-choice surveys or alternative path models. These are essential platforms for proper modelling. The closest theRMS comes to a study of behaviour is to use a UK microsimulation model that films, among other small space movements, in-lane and cross-line driver behaviour, stopping distances, ‘evidence’ of lane swapping and so forth.
This is not indicative of travel choice behaviour: it is indicative of travel frustration.
The northern interchange atJesmondhas been presented in the modelas a traffic controlled interchange of bewildering confusion. The roundabout has been removed. There is no attempt at a synchronised, signalised roundabout with flyover, which would be easily accommodated given the substantial scale of the area. Traffic lights have considerable time and fuel costs compared with roundabouts and are less toxic, especially to diesel toxins.
It is also surprising that the university, a hub for as many as 15-20,000 people, has had no public comment to make on the design and purpose of the bypass as it might service such a crucial node. It seems from RMS modellingthat only 80 or 90 vehicles are going to turn onto the bypass at the southern interchange.What proportion of these will be university bound?
Overall it seems pretty clear that Newcastle is being short-changed.
As Rob Brook has so clearly put it (Herald, 13/7), “We’ve got a state government with a $3 billion surplus but in Newcastle – far enough away from Macquarie Street – they are planning to put in a road network that professional officers from two councils and local residents are all saying is an inherently dangerous design.”
As far back as 1973-74,Newcastle City Council approved a route at the very western extremity of Blackbutt for the bypass. That Newcastle City Council decision was overruled by Canberra.
Forty years later we are paying the price. Since that time we have had congestion, pollution, deterioration of travel times, the accumulation of toxins and their wind blown distribution into Blackbutt to the detriment of flora and fauna.
DrDon Parkes was a member of staff at the University of Newcastle between 1966 and 1994.