The Alexandria-Moore Park Connector (A2MP) is proposed as a set of road widenings that will attract additional vehicles to the sequence of roads: Euston Road, McEvoy Street, Lachlan Street, Dacey Avenue, Allison Road, which are being redesigned into a single contiguous at-grade thoroughfare. It looks like a substitute for traffic from the M5 cutting over to the Eastern Distributor (Dowling Street, M1). The M5 has an exit at the airport and Sydney Park feeding Euston Road, while the Eastern Distributor intersects Dacey Avenue. In short, it is a shorter distance path between these two motorways. It will attract traffic. Once it is faster, it will attract more traffic.
These roads attract significant levels of traffic already, and are hardly pleasant to walk along or across. Signals are spaced for cars, which don’t stop for people trying to cross in the gaps between them.
While it is called a connector, it is really better thought of as a disconnector. Though it connects these roads in one direction, it disconnects the communities it traverses. With all of the mostly residential re-development in and around Green Square and Alexandria, these once isolated neighbourhoods have the opportunity to become one continuous urban community.
So while McEvoy is a nascent High Street in places (especially Alexandria between Fountain Street and Botany Road, where it has a few food markets, lots of restaurants and a good collection of clothing stores), it needs help.
The help it needs is not making it wider so cars can speed through from not here to not there, but making it narrower, so people on foot can cross from shops on one side to shops on the other. In other words, it should be moved down rather than up the hierarchy of roads. People should be able to cross these streets freely and without fear. McEvoy should be a destination, not a detour.
The propaganda in favour of this facility claims “Pedestrian and cyclist improvements for the length of the corridor.” The official update says:
The NSW Government is planning road improvements in the inner city suburbs of Alexandria, Waterloo and Moore Park to improve traffic flow and facilities for pedestrians and cyclists in one of the city’s fastest growing precincts.
The Alexandria to Moore Park Connectivity Upgrade includes improvements to traffic capacity at key intersections and pinch points to improve traffic flow and provide better access for pedestrians and cyclists. These improvements are being planned to integrate with the CBD and South East Light Rail and WestConnex New M5 projects.
By 2021 traffic volumes along this key corridor are projected to grow by 50% or more in peak periods.
The proposed improvements will support urban renewal along the corridor, and encourage motorists to use alternate routes away from the CBD, a key focus of the Sydney City Centre Access Strategy (Transport for NSW, 2013).
Key features of the proposal
- Pedestrian and cyclist improvements for the length of the corridor
- Clearways on both sides of the corridor for extended periods
- Improvements at key intersections including –
- the ‘dog leg’ T-intersections at McEvoy Street and Bourke Street and Lachlan Street and Bourke Street will be rebuilt and combined to form a single more efficient four-way intersection
- South Dowling Street to be widened on the eastern side north of Dacey Avenue/Lachlan Street to provide an additional right turn lane from South Dowling Street into Lachlan Street and to improve the merge from
the Eastern Distributor onto South Dowling Street
- Anzac Parade, Alison Road and Dacey Avenue intersection at Moore Park to be upgraded to a continuous flow intersection (see image overleaf)
- A right turn bay to be added at Bowden Street and right and left turn bays to be added at Fountain Street, Wyndham Street and Botany Road
- A median to be introduced along McEvoy Street
- Lachlan St to be widened on the southern side to provide four lanes.
A map of the preliminary concept design is included in this project update.
The map is below.
Look at all those lane widenings! Each and every widening means pedestrians will have to walk farther across the street, likely confined to dangerous crosswalks, with a minimum of green time, hardly an improvement. Presumably what few street trees there are will be destroyed to promote the movement of cars, reducing the quality of the walking environment.
While shared paths improve conditions for bicyclists compared to no bike lanes and no shared paths, it is hardly the best that can be done, and does not constitute an improvement for pedestrians compared to a genuine third path.
Look at the forecast traffic, increasing by 50% in 4 years! That doesn’t happen by itself, rather, if it happens, it’s due to the project that was supposed to relieve congestion, WestConnex. (And undoubtedly, travel will be faster for some, just not here.)
Note I said “if it happens”, my research in the US has found that these forecasts are not generally terribly accurate, I’d be surprised to find different in Australia. If roads are indeed at capacity for a period of time, then the flow through them cannot increase during that time, that is what capacity means. Traffic is self-regulating, the slower the travel speed, the lower the demand; while the faster the speed, the higher the demand, creating congestion, lowering speed until a new equilibrium is found. This is the concept of induced demand. Expanding urban roads will undoubtedly induce new traffic. This of itself is not bad, people in cars from out of the area can now more easily travel through it, but it comes at a cost, more cars means more road danger, more pedestrian and bicyclist injuries, more air pollution, longer distances across streets for pedestrians, and a less pleasant neighborhood.
The City of Sydney struggles with this, proposing some new traffic calming responses in Alexandria. While this might be the best that can be done assuming the road project proceeds, better still is stopping the project in its tracks.
I am new to this country, I don’t know how what we in the US would call the ‘state highway department’ (officially renamed the state department of transportation, but in practice …) retains as much power as it seems to have. But this kind of urban road expansion is straight out of the 1950s, and not befitting a city with a rising transit mode share (and flat to declining vehicle travel). Changes likes this need to be resisted.