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Adjournment - Hobart Airport Overpass Proposal for the Tasman Highway

25 September 2018

Ms O'CONNOR (Denison - Leader of the Greens) - I rise to speak tonight to raise a matter in this House which has been put forward by Mr Robert Barclay of Cremorne who is very concerned about the proposed airport overpass. I am putting this on the record in the hope that the Minister for Infrastructure is either listening, watching or reads this, because the matters Mr Barclay raise are significant and serious.
 

Dear Cassy

Are you familiar with the design for the proposed overpass on the Tasman Highway at the airport intersection, as published in last Saturday's Mercury? I would suggest that this $35 million-plus project is fatally flawed in so much that every vehicle travelling from Hobart to the airport must pass through a traffic light controlled intersection before crossing the overpass and heading towards the airport.

As you are no doubt aware, traffic light-controlled intersections suffer from a high number of road accidents and such accidents are usually serious in nature as drivers attempt to cross them at high speed. 

The propensity for drivers to do this would be particularly so at this intersection as there are few appointments that are so time-specific than checking in at an airport. By this, I mean that if you are caught in traffic and are a couple of minutes late for work or an appointment, then this may easily be overlooked. Not so if you are late for an airport check-in. As a consequence, motivation to run a red light would be high, as in this situation, which in turn could resolve in dire and possibly fatal consequences.

An accident at these lights located on an elevated section of road and hemmed in by safety barriers on all sides will surely close the only access from the city to the airport for an unacceptable period and consequently a lot of people will miss their flights.

To make matters worse, all vehicles down to a scooter in size leaving Cambridge Park via this junction and travelling either east to Sorell or west towards the city will have to pass through the same set of traffic lights and so interrupt the flow of airport-bound traffic. There is no slip-lane to allow vehicles heading toward Sorell to veer off and avoid the traffic lights. It is indicative of the lack of planning for this project. 

An alternative solution would be to maintain Kennedy Drive's current intersection with the Tasman Highway. Imagine the road rage of anyone running late for a flight having to wait for a single vehicle at these lights.

As Cambridge Park continues to develop, so traffic entering the intersection will increase, with particularly high numbers of vehicles using it at trade knock-off times. These vehicles will place heavy loads upon the controlled intersection, with increased delays for those heading towards the airport.

A better solution would be an overpass designed on similar lines to the one at Mornington, where traffic coming from Hobart and turning right towards the airport pass under the overpass before arcing around to its own dedicated lane on the overpass.

This model would allow traffic to flow from the city, northern suburbs and eastern shore to the airport without the need to pass through any traffic light-controlled intersection or give way to any other traffic. The traffic flow would be considerably enhanced.

A second alternative would be to have dumbbell roundabouts on either side of the overpass, similar to the overpass at Cambridge/Acton Road.

The submission for planning approval states that these alternatives have been considered but rejected, but there has been no explanation as to why this was done. 

It is also worth considering reviewing the logic of having what is essentially only one access route to the airport, the closure of which will isolate the city from the airport. For this reason, I suggest the construction of an alternate route and the airport to the roundabout on Acton Road be considered as a secondary access route.

It has been my understanding that traffic engineering has, at its roots, two goals - one, to improve traffic flow and two, to increase safety. This design meets neither of these aims. It will increase the travel time from the city to the airport, elevate frustration and danger on this trip. Truly a waste of $35 million.

It is important for both road safety and traffic flow reasons that the current design is reviewed as soon as possible. 

 

Mr Deputy Speaker, I put that on the record because this is a very considered letter to me. There may be other members who have received the same correspondence. If we are making these roadworks happen and allocating $35 million in public funds towards them, let us be absolutely certain we get it right, it is a good engineering solution, a good investment of public money and it improves road safety on the road to the airport and its surrounds.