Brighton Road Motion

26 May 2016
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Today I moved a motion condemning the State Labor Government's management of Brighton Road. The text of my motion and speech are below. 

Mr SPEIRS ( Bright ) ( 11:37 ): I move: 

That this house condemns the Weatherill Labor government for failing to appropriately budget and plan for maintenance and upgrades to Brighton Road, resulting in the significant degradation of this important commuter, freight and tourism route and in particular— 

(a) the failure to maintain the overall condition of the road's surface; 

(b) the failure to resurface both sides of the road between Sturt Road, Brighton and Arthur Street, Seacliff Park, leaving one side of the road resurfaced and the other not; 

(c) the failure to address safety and congestion issues at the Scholefield Road and Edwards Street intersections; 

(d) the failure to put in place a long-term, costed infrastructure plan to address serious congestion caused by the Hove railway crossing; and 

(e) the failure to appropriately address safety at the Seacliff Primary School pedestrian crossing. 

Today, I want to talk about one of the most serious issues that affects not only my electorate but also tens of thousands of Adelaideans every day, that being the overall state of Brighton Road. When I was running for election in 2014, I worked over several months with my community to come up with six priorities that I committed to championing should I be elected. When surveying the community to develop these priorities, it quickly became clear that Brighton Road was one of the stand-out issues people wanted me to tackle if elected. 

I was elected and have stayed true to my six priorities, including the need to fight to have Brighton Road upgraded and improved. The challenges facing Brighton Road are many, varied and historic. The road forms one of Adelaide's alternative north-south corridors running from Glenelg in the north, where it comes out of Tapleys Hill Road, through to Seacliff Park in the south, where it becomes Ocean Boulevard as it heads south towards Hallett Cove. 

The road is hemmed by commercial premises and there is very little capacity to widen it so, as traffic volumes have increased, the road has become more congested with this leading to a range of problems from wear and tear issues to difficulties entering and crossing the road from side roads, to pedestrian interaction with the road being very challenging. Given that there is no way of growing Brighton Road's physical capacity, it is a route that needs very careful and ongoing strategic management to ensure that it serves the community as well as it should. 

Brighton Road carries over 40,000 vehicles per day making it one of the most heavily-used routes in metropolitan Adelaide. A recent analysis of traffic movements by the RAA revealed that Brighton Road has had one of the biggest travel time increases, almost three minutes in the morning and almost four minutes in the afternoon. The average speed on Brighton Road during peak times has also dropped from 31 km/h in the morning to just 25 km/h. This is a road that is suffering ongoing degradation, and traffic flows are suffering as a result of increasing congestion. I note that the road is now regularly cited on radio traffic reports covering peak-hour congestion. This is a new eventuality and something that we were unused to in the past. 

A comprehensive management plan for Brighton Road was first mooted following the 2010 election when the road became an election issue. The former member for Bright, Chloe Fox, pledged to have a management plan created for the road, and I understand that the transport department undertook this work during 2011. However, the management plan has never been finalised. It remains, five years later, as a draft management plan and its status is in serious question. It is filled with bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo and the few solutions that it canvasses have been implemented. 

As a result, I question whether it is worth the paper it is written on, and have personally written it off as another faux election promise used half-heartedly to enable my predecessor to placate constituents who regularly raise this as an issue. I want to take members here today on a journey along Brighton Road and step through each of the problems and challenges that that road faces. I will start in the south and move in a northerly direction. Brighton Road begins in the south at the intersection of Scholefield Road at Seacliff Park. Here we find a particularly dangerous intersection which has a very difficult southerly right-hand turn. Residents are forced to crawl out into traffic, many feeling unwilling to do so, before moving in a southward direction. 

While traffic lights are an option listed in the draft management plan for Brighton Road, they pose a range of difficulties because of the gradient of the road at this point. Regardless of what solutions are proposed, the fact is that the intersection is dangerous and poses a real risk particularly for residents living in Marino and Kingston Park. Its redesign is a priority and the coming residential development of the old Cement Hill site at Seacliff Park must be a catalyst for these improvements. 

Moving a few hundred metres north from Scholefield Road, Brighton Road users will come across the Seacliff Primary School pedestrian crossing. This is notorious in our local community as being very dangerous, and the school community has related stories to me time and time again of near misses. The school crossing is at the foot of a long, steep descent and motorists come across it quite suddenly. For those unfamiliar with the road or for careless drivers, the appearance of the pedestrian crossing can come too late to take precautionary action. 

The school community has made huge efforts to lobby the state government for improvements to the crossing and has been keen to see a safety camera installed here as a deterrent to dangerous driving. Unfortunately, this has been rejected by the Minister for Road Safety. I congratulate the principal, Greg Miller, and the governing council chair, Jacinta Day, for their ongoing work on this campaign. 

Personally, I believe a safer approach could be to build a safe walkway between the Seacliff Primary School and Scholefield Road intersection and, as part of the upgrade of the Scholefield Road intersection, include a far safer pedestrian crossing at this wider part of the road, improving lines of sight. This is only a couple of hundred metres from the school and would not be a significant impost but could be much safer. 

If we travel north for another kilometre or so we pass a number of other intersections which have their own unique problems but none more so than the Edwards Street intersection. One problem with Brighton Road is that there are very few opportunities to make safe, controlled right-hand turns onto the road from side streets. Between Glenelg and Seacliff Park, and that is some six kilometres, there are only two examples of this: at Whyte Street, Somerton Park, and at Jetty Road, Brighton. Edwards Street is adjacent to the popular and growing Brighton Central Shopping Centre and the new, somewhat dubiously approved, Hungry Jack's outlet. 

It is a heavily congested intersection with a significant number of its users wishing to turn right. Drivers do have the option to turn left and look for an opportunity to do a U-turn, but this is very difficult at this stretch of Brighton Road because as soon as you turn left from Edwards Street you hit the busyness of Sturt Road and then the Hove railway crossing beyond. It is a complex stretch of road and it requires a significant redesign. 

The next major problem for Brighton Road comes another kilometre or so north of Edwards Street. Here the Seaford line slices across the road, creating an ongoing blockage to efficient traffic flow. The crossing closes the road for an average of 14 times between 7am and 9am on a normal weekday. While I always acknowledge that the Oaklands crossing is a complex priority within the southern region which needs urgent redress, it cannot be overlooked that Brighton Road is the busiest major road in metropolitan Adelaide to endure the indignity of a railway line cutting it in two. The need for grade separation here is a priority, alongside the complex Oaklands crossing further up the line. 

Having highlighted the challenges with Brighton Road in a geographical sense, I now want to canvass a few other significant issues with the road. Firstly, we have the Brighton Road bike lane, which appeared shortly after my election in 2010. In a burst of ingenuity, the state government thought it wise to run a two-way bike lane down each side of Brighton Road. The bike lane operates in both directions from 7am to 9am, and from 4pm to 7pm. It is worth noting that the hours of operation originally proposed were quite a bit longer, but after significant lobbying from myself and the member for Morphett the hours of operation were reduced. 

In relation to the bike lane, I do not believe it has ever really been intended as a bike lane; rather, it is a quasi-clearway designed to assist with peak hour traffic flow. This is something that I support, and I wish that the transport department was up front and had implemented a clearway instead of a dangerous cycle lane on one of Adelaide's busiest roads. 

I also have a significant issue with the impact that the bike lane has had on small businesses along the road, which have traditionally relied on passing trade pulling over and ducking into shops. I have been encouraging the department to amend the hours of operation so that the bike lane operates similarly to many other bike lanes in Adelaide: going one way in the morning and the opposite way in the afternoon, in supporting peak traffic movements. 

This approach would be supported by local businesses and would be a decent compromise. Unfortunately, I received a letter earlier this week from the transport minister stating that after a review of the bike lane, no changes would be made and the area would be left with an antibusiness bike lane going two ways. 

Another major issue for Brighton Road is the condition of the road surface. For a main thoroughfare this really is disgraceful. With the road peppered with potholes and areas where the road surface is breaking up for several metres at a time, this not only increases wear and tear on vehicles using the road, but it is also a real safety hazard. 

Last year, I was heartened to see Brighton Road resurfaced between Arthur Street at Seacliff Park and Sturt Road, Brighton, on the southbound lane, but hundreds of residents joined me in dismay when it was only the southbound lane that was completed and the northbound lane, seen by many to be in poorer condition overall, was left unfinished. It was not until many months later that a series of patch-up jobs were undertaken on that northbound lane, covering the worst parts of the road; but there is still no doubt that such a major artery could benefit from a full program of resurfacing in its entire length. 

The Edwards Street intersection, which I have discussed already today, forms something of a gateway into an economic zone within Brighton Road, from Edwards Street through to the Hove railway crossing. There are a significant number of roadside commercial premises that are actually occupied by small traders, including clothing shops, hairdressers, bakeries, two supermarkets, an Australia Post outlet, cafes and restaurants, medical consulting rooms, a veterinary practice, two churches and a primary school. 

This is a unique retail zone in the midst of a thriving residential community, but its effectiveness is seriously hindered by the division caused by such a major road like Brighton Road. I believe that from Edwards Street through to the Hove railway crossing, there is scope for some really visionary integrated design which can look at traffic controls, traffic speeds, and the way that the road can be used to support economic development in the region rather than hinder it. 

I understand there are some people within the transport department who are interested at looking at some more creative ideas for the management and design of this section of the road—design which could transform it from a congested highway to a thriving High Street zone; design which would make the area more pedestrian-friendly, slow traffic in a positive way, dramatically improve the aesthetics of the road, and stimulate the local economy by making this commercial strip much more of a destination rather than a place for locals to avoid. 

This is something that I would wholeheartedly support, and would happily work alongside the transport department, the City of Holdfast Bay and any private stakeholders, including businesses who want to explore this further. I also want to raise the disappointing aesthetics of Brighton Road. This is obviously not high on my agenda, because traffic flow and general workability of the road must come first, but the aesthetic should not be overlooked. This is Adelaide's main coastal thoroughfare, extending from Adelaide Airport down into the Fleurieu Peninsula, and as such it will carry many thousands of tourists each year. 

The road is incredibly ugly at the moment. The median strip has faded, tacky-looking astroturf along it. There is a hotchpotch of different signage, particularly around both sides of the Scholefield Road intersection at Seacliff Park. Trees have died in the median strip and have not been replaced because of what I see is quite a perverse safety ruling by the transport department, when far more dangerous stobie poles which run up and down both sides of the road should be removed. Perhaps in the longer term, there could be an opportunity to underground those. 

With that, I believe I have provided a thorough analysis of the challenges facing this major transport corridor, and I urge the state government to finalise its draft management plan, take this road seriously, and benefit thousands of commuters every day by giving it the priority that such a vital transport route deserves.