Last Friday night, the NSW Government unveiled their new $175 million addition to the Iron Cove Bridge in an attempt to rid Victoria Road of the largest traffic bottleneck in Sydney. They boast that it would shave up to 18 minutes off the travel times by bus into the city, but the local residents of Balmain, Rozelle and Drummoyne are howling in protest.
So has the upgrade been a success?
Experiencing the bridge's inaugural Monday morning peak hour rush first hand this morning, I took Victoria Road and the Iron Cove Bridge into the city and there were a few things that I noticed. Firstly, and probably most importantly, the traffic was the same. It was still backed up 3 kilometres to Gladesville Bridge as it has been for the past 10 years. Secondly, to avoid the traffic, I would normally take the back streets of Lions Road and Renwick Street through Drummoyne, but today I found the traffic on these streets was worse than normal. I later found out the reason for this was that the Government had changed the traffic light sequences to longer periods of green on Victoria Road. This backed-up the traffic on the back streets of Drummoyne creating bottlenecks on roads like Park Ave and Rosebery Place.
Thirdly, there have been road closures. Cary St has been closed to Victoria Road during the morning peak which caused massive delays for commuters on Henley Marine Drive. A lot of cars come that way and now they need to find an alternative route - clogging more of Drummoyne's back streets. The end result of my trip into work took nearly 10 minutes longer than usual. Not happy.
The Premier Kristina Kenneally will be officially opening the new bridge this morning at 10am and I'm sure there will be a crowd of angry local residents waiting for her. The RTA has removed more than 50 parking spaces along Victoria Road during peak periods which the locals believe will also impact heavily on local business in the area. "The government and the RTA is turning that shopping strip in Drummoyne into a shopping sewer, a bit like Parramatta Road..." Local Drummoyne Independent Alex Elliott is quoted saying.
As someone who has experienced the impact of this improvement first hand, I believe that the New Iron Cove Bridge has done little to fix the problems on Victoria Road. It has spread its traffic woes across the whole suburb of Drummoyne and now quiet back streets in the area will be experiencing the same traffic congestion as the busiest arterial roads in Sydney. Leichhardt Mayor Jamie Parker summed the project up nicely - "This is a $175 million catastrophe and they know it."