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Outer East Branch
Myths about transport
Common Urban Myths About Transport
The purpose of freeways is to bypass congested areas
Whatever is said about them before they’re built, after they are built all
freeways act as feeders for local commuter traffic, most of which is headed
to or toward the city centre.
In the 1960s, far from denying that freeways were intended for central city
commuters, road planners positively drooled over the fact:
For example, a trip from Frankston to the CBD by the shortest route in 1964
would have taken 62 minutes but in 1985, with the proposed freeway system
in operation, this time would be reduced to about 39 minutes. Other examples
would be 19 minutes instead of 32 to go from Tullamarine to the CBD and 29
minutes instead of 42 to go from Eltham to Dandenong East.
---Melbourne Transportation Plan, 1969
In 1974, however, a study by the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads recommended
radial freeways should not be provided, particularly if the journey
to work in the [central area] is their principal justification. In 1982
this also became formal Victorian Government policy. Public transport had a
‘natural advantage’ in conveying people to the city centre, and
it was pointless building freeways to undermine this, particularly since the
CBD has no capacity to absorb the resulting traffic.
The response of the road planners was to rechristen their proposed freeways
as bypass roads. The Tullamarine Freeway Extension was renamed the Western
Bypass, the Lower Yarra Freeway became the Southern Bypass; part of the
Eastern Freeway Extension was renamed the Ringwood Bypass.
More recently we saw a portion of the Dingley Freeway dubbed the Springvale
Bypass, two ‘missing links’ in the Princes Freeway renamed as the
Hallam and Pakenham Bypasses, and the Mornington Peninsula Freeway dubbed the
Frankston Bypass. Even the freeway driven through the centre of Albury in
2006 was described as an
But these roads are not bypass routes; they remain the central city access
routes they were always intended to be. Take Citylink, for example: it was
(and sometimes still is) claimed to be a bypass of the CBD, linking traffic
between the south-east and north-west without adding to congestion in inner
suburban streets. Yet as The Age economics editor Tim Colebatch
Traffic studies show only 10 per cent of peak-hour traffic on the Monash
Freeway at Dandenong heads for the Burnley Tunnel, and only 12 per cent of
vehicles crossing West Gate Bridge go on to the tunnel.
---"Citylink deal might yet be an earner", The Age, 13 June
Arguments abound currently over whether the Napthine Government’s
East West Link between the Eastern and Tullamarine Freeways is really a
‘bypass’ (as Rod Eddington’s 2008 report suggested) or a
central-city access route. The boss of EastLink has no doubts, though:
You are going to have to, in my view, put exits into the city...
because it does have to get commuters to the city. It is not just a
bypass as Eddington recommends.
---Dennis Cliche, ConnectEast managing director, The Age,
13 September 2012
Occasionally, the fictional nature of the ‘bypass’ theory
slips out in other ways.
- Example 1:
VicRoads told a 1990 inquiry that the extension of the Eastern Freeway
of greater assistance to the circumferential movement of traffic
around Melbourne than a generator of traffic to the inner areas. But
with the election of the pro-freeway Kennett Government, VicRoads changed
its story, saying the extension was
to improve....access between the central
employment region, regional centres and the eastern / north-eastern regional
- Example 2:
When the Tullamarine Freeway Extension’s name was changed to the Western
Bypass, VicRoads claimed the road was mainly for trucks seeking access to
the Dynon freight centre. But when the first plan appeared in 1987, the exit
ramps at Dynon Road pointed south toward the City, not west toward the
freight centre. When this was pointed out, VicRoads hastily added some ramps
pointing to the freight centre!
- Example 3:
Because CityLink was sold to the public as a bypass that would help keep
cars out of the CBD, the original plans did not include the connection of
Batman Avenue to Exhibition Street. But after the project was approved in
1996 the road lobby wasted no time getting this link included. This
provided an entirely new route funnelling car traffic directly into the CBD.
Conversely, there is no access to the CityLink tunnels from either Punt Road
or Church Street, meaning that even if large numbers of people in Richmond,
South Yarra, Prahran or St Kilda wanted to use CityLink to bypass the CBD,
there is no effective way for them to do so.
- Example 4:
Even before completion of the so-called ‘Pakenham Bypass’ in
2007, there were calls for a new road to bypass the town of Koo-Wee-Rup
15 kilometres away. People in Koo-Wee-Rup quite rightly perceived that
the ‘bypass’ would be used as a radial city access route not
only by Pakenham commuters but also by those from South Gippsland (where
the Government ruled out restoring rail services). With the ‘bypass’
in place, it didn’t take long for the RACV to also highlight the
further road upgrades it believes the ‘bypass’ made necessary.
Township committee president Ray Brown said cars were clogging up the
town centre and the situation would get worse once the Pakenham Bypass
was finished in 2007.
"Once this (Pakenham) bypass is built things will only get worse.
This is the only route between South Gippsland Highway and the bypass."
Cardinia Shire agrees, and last week named duplication of the road
number one in a list of 10 issues to lobby candidates for next year’s
---"Traders in bypass push", Pakenham Cardinia Leader, 28
The need [for upgrades] is already apparent with roads such as
Kooweerup Road experiencing significant traffic growth and
deterioration since the completion of Pakenham Bypass.
---Brian Negus (RACV), Berwick & District Journal,
15 September 2008
Community leaders in Deer Park were similarly sceptical about the ability of
their ‘bypass’ (completed in 2009) to take traffic off other roads.
Deer Park resident and former Sunshine Mayor Bernard Reilly....said the
Deer Park bypass would not make a significant difference to Deer Park’s
traffic problem because not everyone would use it. For those who did use
the bypass, it would just push the traffic further back up the Ring Road,
Blast at ‘empty’ transport claim, Brimbank Leader,
25 April 2006
The most celebrated recent case of the ‘bypass’ myth is the
Geelong Ring Road. Claimed by the road lobby to be a bypass route for
freight and tourist traffic between Melbourne and the southern side of
Geelong, its real purpose is to facilitate old-fashioned urban sprawl.
Witness the glee displayed by local real estate agents after the funding
announcement in 2004:
NEW suburbs may be created as commuters rush to be near Geelong’s ring
road, real estate agents said yesterday. Herne Hill, Lovely Banks, Wandana
Heights, Queens Park and even Bannockburn will become Geelong’s new boom
areas, with the road putting them within an hour of Melbourne. Agent Robert
Creece said the boom would be so big that areas would be renamed as houses
Hocking Stuart principal Marcus Falconer said the road would create a
new property boom for Geelong.
It is just going to go through the roof,
Mr Falconer said.
It will quite quickly link Geelong to Melbourne, it
will be a lot closer to the CBD and people will consider Geelong as an
alternative place to live. Mr Falconer said travel times from southern
Geelong to Melbourne CBD would become comparable to those from
Melbourne’s far eastern and northern suburbs....
Hayden Real Estate Grovedale sales manager Tim Darcy said it would enhance
real estate activity in areas close to the road.
---Geelong Advertiser, 9 June 2004
Even Vicroads admitted the ‘bypass’ would not solve traffic
congestion on major Geelong roads like Latrobe Terrace. In April 2005, in a
panel hearing on the removal of a heritage overlay to allow construction of
a left turn slip lane in Latrobe Terrace, Vicroads said that while
is likely to be a reduction of up to 17% in traffic volumes in Latrobe Tce
immediately on the completion of the Bypass, the traffic will return to
its pre-Bypass levels
in a relatively short space of time.
The secret is out: as subsequent experience has shown, the Geelong
‘bypass’ is just another radial commuter route to the Melbourne
CBD, duplicating and undermining patronage on the Geelong train line.
Rather than remove traffic from the parallel highway as hoped, it simply
adds new traffic of its own, leaving Geelong
with a worse traffic problem than before. Had the truth about this road
been known at the start, it would never have seemed so deserving of a
billion dollars of government funding!
The same story played out in Melbourne’s south with the $1.3 billion
Frankston ‘Bypass’ (originally claimed to cost $750 million).
Again, this is not its original name - for years, it has appeared in the
Melway as the Mornington Peninsula Freeway. As such, it was always planned
as a radial commuter freeway to help extend urban sprawl to the Peninsula.
Its retitling as ‘Peninsula Link’ is a little more honest -
but again, this occurred only after the State Government committed
to build the road. As in Geelong, local real estate agents already gave
the game away years ago:
Mt Martha real estate agent Jim Arvanitakis expects the bypass to make
the Peninsula more attractive to home buyers.
The Harcourts director, who has worked in Mt Martha for seven years,
said the reduced travel time to the CBD would continue to push the
region’s credentials as a place to call home...
For years the Mornington Peninsula has been seen as a place for the
holiday house, Mr Arvanitakis said.
But this will encourage people to think of the area not just as a
holiday destination. The more people who consider the peninsula as a
place for residence, the more pressure there will be on prices, so
they can only go up.
Residents’ thumbs up for Frankston bypass, Herald
Sun, 17 October 2008
The conclusion is clear. So called ‘bypass’ roads are never
intended simply to shift existing traffic out of congested areas. Like all
freeways, they are there to create new traffic, and to maintain the level
of congestion rather than reduce it. After they are built, all these
‘bypass’ roads function as the radial commuter freeways they
always were. All of them fulfil their unstated objective of extending
urban sprawl, and undermining the already inadequate public transport that
exists (and which could have been improved for a fraction of the cost of
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© 2010 Public Transport Users Association Inc. (PTUA), Victoria, Australia. ABN 83 801 487 611.
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Authorised by Tony Morton, 247 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, for the PTUA
Last modified: 20 February 2014