Armadale Road runs for approximately 18km west from Albany Highway to the Kwinana Freeway. Significant sections west from Forrestdale are still one lane each way despite the large and increasing traffic flow as the area is developed more, and a greater number of people reside in the suburbs along that route. To the west of Kwinana Freeway the road is known as Beeliar Drive, with the Cockburn Central shopping centre complex just to the west of the freeway. Traffic lights control intersections at Tapper Drive, Kwinana Freeway (east and west), Midgegooroo Avenue, Wentworth Parade, and Nicholson Road, and at the junctions at Warton Road and Fraser Road. All those traffic lights include arrow sequences which operate at all hours, irrespective of the number of vehicles. That, of course, is not the only problem with sequencing of those lights.
In the lead up to the 2015 Canning by-election, caused by the death of Don Randall, the Liberal Party at Commonwealth level, being the government of the day, promised funding to make Armadale Road dual carriageway for its full length, with two lanes each way. The State coalition government was silent on the matter. Despite all the planning and costing of the proposal having been done well before the by-election nothing has been seen of the funds promised for this urgent road upgrade, and the latest start date proposed for the work is 2018. Silence from the State government provided it with an opportunity, if noise about non-delivery after the by-election was too much, to declare that there were insufficient funds available in its budget for the road to go ahead, but allowed the public to be conned into thinking that the promise from Canberra would result in some action. In essence, a promise was made in order to buy votes for the Liberal Party candidate, most likely in the full knowledge that the funds would not be available until well beyond the time expected in the affected areas, if at all. At the same time, the Labor [sic] Party declared that it would fund both the upgrade of Armadale Road and the new bridge over the Kwinana Freeway and an associated on-ramp sought by the Armadale and Cockburn councils, again in full knowledge that, without a change of government, that policy would have little or no chance of being accepted in parliament because of petty party politicking instead of constructive governance. The bridge proposal was put forward so that Perth-bound traffic wouldn’t have to encounter the bottle-neck at the intersection with the freeway.
Funding for the upgrade of Armadale Road to dual carriageway standard is critical and urgent in order to make travelling along that route safer and quicker. Indeed, the current State coalition government can no longer claim that there are insufficient funds to upgrade Armadale Road, a task which is supported by all parties, while it claims to have funds to build the highly disputed Roe Highway extension. Whilst I can see some merit in having Armadale Road traffic able to access North Lake Road without the problem of the lights at the freeway and Midgegooroo Avenue, if there is enough traffic taking that route to warrant the connection, the suggestion of having another on-ramp for northbound vehicles is likely to create more mayhem on the freeway, rather than reduce it. Personally, I see an alternative, and much better and cheaper, way of fixing the problem.
Both the Armadale and Cockburn councils have approached the congestion on Beeliar Drive, between the freeway and Wentworth Parade with the idea of diverting traffic from the area, and without consideration of either the consequences of their proposed plan or alternative ways to address the issue. Morning peak traffic on the freeway is already congested by the time it reaches Armadale Road, and gets much worse with the inclusion of traffic from Berrigan Drive before a hill which causes many trucks to slow significantly, and then relief with some vehicles heading onto Roe Highway and with the addition of another lane before South Street. Adding another on-ramp, between Armadale Road and Berrigan Drive will only make that congestion worse. An additional lane, northbound, between Berrigan Drive and Roe Highway would alleviate much of the congestion on the freeway.
The congestion in the area of concern to the councils is directly attributable to a combination of poor traffic light sequencing, and poor road design. With the exception of southbound freeway traffic wanting to head west along Beeliar Drive there is adequate space in the intersection for a clover-leaf structure to be built now, where right-turning traffic goes beyond the intersection and takes a tight left hand curve, properly banked, to join the new route. Such a structure avoids all use of traffic lights and ensures good flow. Left turning traffic is guided along a simple road which connects with the intended route. Improvements in the sequencing of lights at Midgegooroo Avenue and Wentworth Parade would complete the transformation for grid-lock to flowing traffic. One suggestion for southbound traffic heading for Beeliar Drive is to exit at Berrigan Drive and use the recently upgraded North Lake Road to get there.
I will push strongly for:
● a clover-leaf pattern to be established as soon as practicable for traffic heading along Armadale Road or Beeliar Drive and joining the freeway, and for northbound freeway traffic heading for Armadale Road, eastbound;
● design planning, with high priority, to work out the best way to get southbound freeway traffic flowing onto Beeliar Drive without the need for traffic lights;
● modification to the sequencing of all traffic lights along Armadale Road and Beeliar Drive, but with urgent focus on those at Midgegooroo Avenue and Wentworth Parade, to make traffic flow closer to how it would with good point-duty police control, learning lessons which Fiji police can provide.
Authorised by Steven Secker, 4 Dower Court, Armadale.