Manly Daily 18 Jul 2012. By Charis Chang
THE Spit Bridge could be rebuilt as a six-lane structure to accommodate a Bus Rapid Transit system with a tunnel for bus traffic under Military Road.
The radical measures were just two options being considered to ease travel times for northern beaches commuters as part of the BRT pre-feasibility study.
The long-awaited report provides six options for community consultation.
The Manly Daily was given a summary report of the pre-feasibility study, with the full report to be released this week.
In the best-case scenario it found commuters could shave 17 minutes off the 74-minute express trip from Mona Vale to Wynyard.
However, this would involve building a new Spit Bridge with six lanes that would not open for marine traffic, a tunnel under Military Road and a new Narrabeen bridge at a cost of $1.2 billion.
Manly State Liberal MP Mike Baird said he thought commuters would embrace the potential 25 per cent reduction in travel times but should also consider whether they were open to contributing to the cost.
“This is the first time that a long-term plan puts forward a transport vision for the northern beaches that is feasible and possible,” he said.
“But the community need to be prepared, if they are gaining a tangible benefit, to pay their share, which will ultimately help in terms of delivering the project.”
The pre-feasibility report found that it would be possible to deliver a north-south BRT through removing on-street parking, widening the road in six locations and property acquisitions.
It would also require replacing The Spit and Narrabeen bridges with six-lane bridges.
This would separate buses from traffic and provide an overtaking lane, saving commuters travelling from Mona Vale to Wynyard, up to 13 minutes on limited stops or express services.
Constructing a tunnel under Military Road would increase the saving to 17 minutes and Mr Baird said he was in favour of this option, even though it was the most expensive, because it was the most beneficial in terms of travel times.
The report found the cost of all the options outweighed the benefits but negative impacts on traffic could be reduced by shortening the bus lane’s operating hours.
Mr Baird said the report also examined the benefits of a bus-only tunnel but he would request Infrastructure NSW include a car lane.
Report will be released online for community consultation and public forums.
Details: mikebaird.com.au or call 9976 2773.
From Dee Why via Warringah Rd, Boundary and Archers streets to Chatswood CBD with potential stops at Dee Why, proposed Frenchs Forest hospital, Frenchs Forest, Roseville Chase and Chatswood.
COST: At $77 million, this option is the cheapest but could result in an increase in general traffic congestion for other road users.
BENEFITS: Improved access to Chatswood. Time savings from Narraweena to Chatswood East could be up to eight minutes.
VERDICT: Improvements could be made through new routes via Warringah Mall and other areas, instead of a dedicated Bus Rapid Transit system.
NORTH SOUTH OPTIONS:
From Mona Vale to Wynyard, with potential stops at Warriewood, Narrabeen, Collaroy, Dee Why, Warringah Mall, Manly Vale, Spit Junction, North Sydney and Neutral Bay.
* Package of priority works for 24-hour kerbside lanes between Mona Vale and Neutral Bay, upgraded stations.
* Remove on-street parking and replace with off-street parking.
* Widen road at six locations.
* Verdict: Cost $336 million, does not address pinch points of Narrabeen and Spit bridges, or provide overtaking lanes.
* BRT on median lanes, upgraded stations.
* Replace Spit and Narrabeen bridges with six-lane bridges.
* Removal of on-street parking and road widening as for Option 1.
* Verdict: Cost $488 million, but reduces priority for local buses, which have to use normal traffic lanes.
* Segregated kerbside BRT lanes
* Overtaking bays, Spit and Narrabeen bridge widening, removal of on-street parking
* Verdict: Cost $572 million, separates buses from other traffic and has passing bays.
* Kerbside BRT lanes as for Option 3, with interchange at North Sydney for commuters to transfer on to rail.
* Verdict: Cost $552 million, passengers forced to change on to trains at North Sydney but would reduce number of buses in the CBD.
* Kerbside BRT as for Option 3, with two-lane dedicated bus tunnel beneath Military Rd between Spit Junction and Warringah Freeway.
* Verdict: Cost $1.2 billion, most expensive option, provides limited interchange options for passengers to North Sydney but greatest travel time savings.