MATTHEW WOODALL is deputy mayor of Melville and a councillor for the Bull Creek-Leeming ward. In this THINKING ALLOWED he says the McGowan government’s re-jigged solution to the Murdoch Drive Connection ignores the needs of Melville residents and will leave them snarled in traffic.
THE final concept design for the Murdoch Drive Connection was announced by the state and federal ministers for transport on January 22, 2018.
By endorsing the final design, the state government has turned a blind eye to the concerns of Melville residents, particularly residents of Leeming.
The final design differs significantly from the original Main Roads-proposed design (original design).
Compared to the original design, the final design has the effect of limiting traffic through the city of Cockburn and instead forcing it into the city of Melville.
In particular, Farrington Road east of the Kwinana Freeway will continue to be used as a ‘rat-run’ by people travelling in an east/west direction.
Traffic modelling shows that the final design will result in an additional 4000 vehicles per day on Farrington Road in Leeming compared to the original design. It will also see significantly higher traffic volumes on a number of other roads in the City of Melville’s domain, including Murdoch Drive, Karel Avenue and South Street, in comparison to the original design.
Congestion in Leeming is already severe due to the use of Farrington Road to both access and exit Roe Highway.
The final design will only worsen this problem and cause significant difficulties for those residents of Leeming south of Farrington Road.
Ironically, these residents are largely in the city of Cockburn—a local government which has enthusiastically supported the changes to the design.
An additional concern is that Murdoch Drive may not be able to cope with the predicted traffic volumes in its current form.
Road widening and other measures may be required to ensure safe and reliable access to the hospital precinct.
This would result in a financial cost to Melville ratepayers despite the fact it is the state government imposing this flawed design upon our community.
Financial impacts aside, the final design severely limits the routes available to drivers. For example, drivers cannot access Murdoch Drive (heading north) from Farrington Road, which limits access to the hospital precinct for residents in south-west Leeming and those east of Murdoch Pines.
Similarly, drivers cannot access Roe Highway (heading east) from Bibra Drive—instead they must either use Farrington Road and Karel Avenue, or travel on Murdoch Drive north before attempting to double-back.
The final design could easily be modified by providing for two-way access between (i) Bibra Drive and Roe Highway, and (ii) Farrington Road and Murdoch Drive.
This would largely eliminate the need for vehicles travelling either east or west to use Farrington Road in Leeming to access or exit Roe Highway via Karel Avenue.
It would also generally improve traffic flows by providing multiple routes for traffic, thereby avoiding bottlenecks.
Residents of the City of Melville need to make their voices heard by contacting their local members of parliament.
It is simply not good enough for the WA minister for transport to be influenced by a noisy minority.
The final design, if implemented, will not benefit anyone except a small minority of residents on Bibra Drive.
Apart from the congestion impact on Melville residents, the final design will also severely limit the ability of Cockburn residents (including Bibra Lake residents) to access and use the new road.
People before politics
The final design was announced at the 11th hour and in total disregard of Melville residents.
Despite the fact that the final design represents a significant departure from the original design, the WA minister for transport declined to undertake further public consultation in circumstances where this would have had no effect on the project completion date.
In this regard the City of Melville unanimously passed a motion at our February council meeting expressing serious concern with the final design and calling on the government to undertake traffic microsimulation work and further public consultation.
Unfortunately our local members of parliament are missing in action, particularly the member for Jandakot. He has seemingly gone into damage control by authorising and distributing a glossy four-page leaflet (at taxpayer expense) which attempts to defend the final design by arguing it accounts for concerns of residents west of the Kwinana Freeway (i.e. Bibra Drive residents).
If the member for Jandakot intends to seek re-election, then it is time for him to rise above party politics and stand up for his constituents by convincing the minister to re-think her decision.
The minister for transport must re-consider the design and undertake further public consultation so that we achieve an outcome that benefits the whole community—not a select few.
The views expressed in this Thinking Allowed are my own and not necessarily the same as the city of Melville.