Is this our future: Avoiding Carmageddon: a slot-car way (open trench road) to a better Beirut?

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 WE LIKE to think of Sydney as the Harbour City, but is Parramatta Road more emblematic of what we really are? After all, most of us spend a lot of time in cars, more and more of it on congested roads such as the famous connection to Sydney’s west, which is lined with sales yards for even more cars…

Its new report, First Things First, makes the call that neither an extra 2 million in population, most of them living in Sydney, nor rising hydrocarbon fuel prices will break the love of Sydneysiders for their own set of wheels. Instead, more efficient cars keep motoring alive, and by 2032, ”investing in the completion of our strategic road network has made strangling congestion on inadequate arterial routes a thing of the past”.

Many people will regard that as a big call, believing instead in an iron law of urban transport: the volume of traffic will expand to clog any given amount of road space. They will be disappointed by the absence of new rail lines aside from Premier Barry O’Farrell’s pet North-West Metro, and of a new cross-harbour rail link to cope with its passenger load…

It will be on Parramatta Road, however, that Greiner is tackling ”Carmageddon” with the boldest element of his vision. This is the biggest ”missing link” of them all, a 33-kilometre extension of the M4 from Concord, where it presently dumps traffic, to Sydney Airport. The panel suggests the express roadway be ”slotted” under the existing Parramatta Road in a partly open-roofed trench, before curving south in a tunnel from Camperdown to south of St Peters.

Something like this is probably the best way of preserving the urban fabric of the heritage suburbs on either side, and regenerating the frontages along the quieter surface road into residential and shopping precincts, perhaps like Beirut on one of its better days. But it may need a light rail or metro as well to be desirable real estate…

EDITORIAL National Times, October 4, 2012

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