Extra lanes could ease ‘pinch points’ as new interchange funnels extra traffic on to roads ahead of Anzac Bridge in Sydney
Emergency works are being carried out to improve “pinch points” on Sydney’s Rozelle interchange after the multibillion-dollar spaghetti junction caused traffic chaos when it opened last week.
The emergency works, which began on Monday and were due to be completed by the weekend, will add a second lane for 400 metres where the City West Link merges with the new Crescent Overpass before Anzac Bridge.
The New South Wales government will also investigate the potential of carrying out similar works at the pinch point on Victoria Road before Anzac Bridge.
The roads minister, John Graham, signed off on the changes after being briefed by senior Transport for NSW officials at a crisis meeting on Sunday.
On Monday, Graham said congestion was expected to ease over time and he had “tried to be upfront” that inner west residents would face “significant local traffic challenges” when the interchange first opened.
“I do want to acknowledge that there have been real frustrations for motorists.”
Graham said he would waive tolls for motorists for a set period when the M6 stage one project in southern Sydney opened.
But he said he had been advised that introducing a toll-free period for the Rozelle interchange was “not possible” – which he said “made sense” given that the junction was the gateway to the broader Westconnex network.
Westconnex is operated by private tolling giant Transurban.
The Transport for NSW secretary, Josh Murray, conceded the extra lane on the City West Link had the potential to simply move the “pinch point” further up the road.
“That’s absolutely a concern,” he said.
“Infrastructure experts and our transport planners have been working together around the clock to come up with these solutions. They won’t fix everything. But they will give us some breathing space to plan the next part of any changes.”
Comprised of more than 16km of underground tunnels, the Rozelle interchange connects the M4-M8 link with the Anzac and Iron Cove bridges and a future western harbour tunnel.
It was meant to slash travel times from Sydney’s west and inner west into the CBD but has instead blown out some peak-hour commutes.
Since the project opened on 19 November, morning drivers heading into the city have struggled with congestion where multiple new lanes of traffic abruptly merge into one before the Anzac Bridge.
The Inner West council mayor, Darcy Byrne, has convened a public meeting at Balmain Town Hall on Thursday with the council’s traffic engineers and the Transport for NSW coordinator general, Howard Collins.
Byrne is urging the government to release “complete and transparent” traffic data for Victoria Road and the City West Link and undertake an immediate review of the lane configurations.
“For more than a decade council has warned that funnelling massively increased traffic flows to the Anzac Bridge would create a tunnel to a traffic jam,” he said.
A NSW transport management centre spokesperson said there had been no “significant delays” through the intersection on Monday morning, with peak travel travel times of 13 minutes from Balmain Road to Anzac Bridge and up to 16 minutes from Lyons Road to Anzac Bridge.
But they were expecting traffic conditions to be worse on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday when more drivers were going to work in the CBD.
On Sunday, the premier, Chris Minns, said the government was looking at all possible solutions and acknowledged commuter pain.
“We understand that for many people it’s taking way too long to get short distances to work as a result of these changes … we know we have to find a solution,” he said.
“Part of it will be people becoming more confident with using that road, understanding where the exit points are, where the entry points are, realising that many options won’t attract any toll at all and will actually result in a quick commute to work.”
Additional reporting by Tamsin Rose