Industry Issues, Transport Features

Inside the faults of the Rozelle Interchange project

The road freight industry and the general public have had their say on one of Australia’s largest and most controversial road infrastructure projects

Simple yet inefficient signage. That’s what UNSW emeritus professor Ann Williamson is suggesting is the cause behind what she describes as mass mayhem at the Rozelle Interchange in Sydney, New South Wales. It has led to freight vehicle users being forced to wait up to an hour to travel through the new section of road infrastructure. 

Located in the inner west suburb of Rozelle, it has been in the works since December 2018. The road’s toll operator Transurban said back then the complex network of underground tunnels would provide a rare commodity for people in Sydney – seamless travel. But so far, it hasn’t. 

The signage issue has been boiling over since the interchange’s urban design and landscape plan was released in 2021. In the plan, only one reference mentioned signage. However, Williamson says that once this spaghetti junction is fixed, road users will have much smoother rides home. 

“I think it’ll be a wonderful addition to help improve the transition from one area of Sydney to another,” UNSW emeritus professor Ann Williamson told ATN. 

“However, it’s got some faults, which are really obvious.” 

This poor signage has seen people forced to wait up to an hour to depart the Interchange.  

There is a fear to use the intersection because of confusing signage according to Williamsonand it isn’t the first-time signage has been a problem on a major NSW road infrastructure project. 

An example of this is Homebush Bay Drive and the Western Motorway. Williamson says that originally it was a right turn off the Motorway to the Drive. When multiple lanes were installed, this changed into a left turn. The only signage indicating this was mere metres before the turnoff.  

Road Freight NSW CEO Simon O’Hara agrees that there’s a lack of signage on the newly opened Rozelle Interchange and Transport for NSW is fixing it. 

“The signage issue has now been remedied with additional portable signs that gives commuters and drivers an idea on what’s tolled and what’s not tolled – that’s important,” O’Hara told ATN. 

 Road Freight NSW CEO Simon O’Hara. Image Supplied: Prime Creative Media

This portable signage comes in the form of message signs, which Williamson says is proving to be helpful. However, that’s not the case during peak hour traffic because she often only gets to read half of the message before it’s too late. 

The signage in and around the Interchange has also been impacted by the project’s modelling. Transport for NSW didn’t consider that the Interchange would form a key part of the Sydney road network, according to O’Hara, despite being introduced into a usually quiet area.  

He says that there have been other issues from the start, including how difficult it will be to manage. By being introduced at the busy Christmas holiday period time of the year, minor issues have become glaring as plenty of freight vehicles attempt to pass through the interchange.  

“I think the communication on this issue needs to be improved in terms of how it’s going to operate,” O’Hara says. 

“It would’ve been more appropriate to give freight operators earlier advice on how to travel through it.” 

Williamson says that interchange users, including the freight industry, have been vocal on the issue of signage and communication around the interchange. Inner West Council mayor Darcy Byrne has called on Transurban to not hide and run from this issue. 

Transport for NSW has responded by introducing an extra 400 metre lane on the City West Link towards the Anzac Bridge. 

Even before that change, there were already improvements in the area. In an ABC article, Transport for NSW recently reported that city bound traffic to the Bridge had been cut down from 45 to 30 minutes. Traffic on the usually busy Paramatta Road was also found to be very light. 

Transport for NSW has responded well to the issue according to Williamson. However, she also says that the department isn’t putting enough effort into making it road user-friendly moving forward.  

O’Hara says that that the department is listening to the road freight industry issues raised at a recent meeting between Road Freight NSW and Transport for NSW.  

“They certainly listened to what we had to say and they’ve taken action on some of the issues we’ve raised,” O’Hara says. 

“We raised other issues such as tolls funding from both federal and state governments and also regarding ports and rest areas.” 

Once complete, the Interchange is expected to bring many positive benefits, including allowing people to get to places much faster than before. It could also open up new opportunities for heavy and light vehicles alike. But O’Hara says that Transport for NSW must find a way to get it to work for everyone. 

Williamson says that the Interchange will greatly benefit traffic and willalso help improve safety and decrease emissions. More importantly, it will decrease peak hour traffic, but this improvement is yet to be made reality due to key signage issues.  

“If that’s what the problem is, we can really help people to know where they’re going,” Williamson says.  

“That requires good and well-placed signage so that people can get themselves into the location they need to be in order to get through to their destination.” 

There could be more major road projects in the pipeline for Sydneysiders. Williamson is hopeful that Transport for NSW will be more careful about signage in these future projects. 

“I would hate to see the next new road that’s going to open and do the same thing, which is not too far away because there’s another interchange around the Cremorne area that’s causing huge traffic problems,” Williamson says. 

The end may take a while for users to reach while travelling the Rozelle Interchange’s swerving depths. However, O’Hara says when they do see the light at the end of the tunnel, they’ll see that the interchange holds a bright future. 

“There’s a lot that’s good about this, we just have to get it right.” 

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