THE Roads and Maritime Service and Byron Council are working on the key to unlock Byron Bay's roundabout gridlock.
The Northern Star brought this to the attention of readers this week and we're happy to report there's swift movement for a resolution.
As the photograph in the letters column (above) depicts, the main entrance to Byron Bay from the Pacific Highway gets gridlocked most mornings during peak hour.
This leads to cars backing up across two roundabouts at the Ewingsdale interchange and virtually closing down one southbound lane of the Pacific Highway.
It's an accident waiting to happen before someone gets badly rear ended by someone doing 100km/h on the highway.
It seems this bottleneck is partly due to cars slowing down at the smaller roundabout entrance to Byron's new hospital.
This entry point seems way too narrow and badly located.
Either the road needs to be widened to two lanes at this juncture, or the roundabout scrapped in favour of a slip lane.
Regardless, it is pleasing to have the RMS jump on this problem so quickly.
It's excruciating to watch some of the dangerous movements drivers employ to get around this gridlock each morning.
And it's a major source of frustration for local commutes who have to endure this delay each day whether it's holiday season or not.
Kudos to the RMS and council for acknowledging the problem.
But it will be measured on how quickly they can act in rectifying a traffic issue that shouldn't exist after the billions of dollars poured into this section of the highway.
Letter from RMS
In response to your editorial of Monday 13 February, "Highway crossing often blocked" I would like to reassure your readers Roads and Maritime Services is aware of the concerns about traffic efficiency at the Ewingsdale Road and Pacific Highway interchange and hospital roundabouts.
Shortly after completion of the interchange in the first half of 2016, we checked the actual traffic flow against the design flows and found it would support future capacity.
It would appear the new hospital roundabout and other developments are causing traffic queues back to the Ewingsdale interchange.
Traffic congestion to the east of the interchange was identified towards the end of last year, particularly during the daily morning peak. Traffic monitoring was carried out and several factors were identified as contributing to the delay. In particular a shockwave effect was observed where traffic slowing to negotiate the single lane hospital roundabout was queuing back into the highway interchange.
Short term measures are being considered to optimise the network, including extending the merge lane on Ewingsdale Road to provide increased capacity for motorists travelling into Byron Bay.
Roads and Maritime is meeting with Byron Shire Council to discuss the issue and examine short and longer term options.
Robert (Bob) Higgins
General Manager Pacific Highway
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