Beleaguered Sydney drivers have been denied a toll free day, despite the government saying “nothing (was) off the table” when it came to easing congestion due to the opening of the Rozelle Interchange.
Traffic bedlam along Victoria Rd up to the Anzac Bridge has continued to anger drivers travelling into the city, some of whom have had their commute increase from 15 to upwards of 55 minutes.
Even comedian Rebel Wilson has weighed in on the chaos, which began with the opening of the new interchange on Monday.
To try to ease the morning peak, trucks from the nearby Metro dig sites will be diverted from the City West Link between 7am and 9.30am from Thursday.
The main pinch points are between Drummoyne and the CBD, with people not using the toll free Iron Cove Link tunnel, and the City West Link for drivers travelling into the CBD from the west.
“(The trucks have) been mixing it with commuter traffic in peak hour and that’s one of the things that has made things worst,” Roads Minister John Graham said.
The government will also use data from Transport NSW and WestConnex to make any needed adjustments “hour-by-hour”.
Also on online map tools, such as Google Maps and Waze, are expected to be updated with the new road system soon.
However, Mr Graham said there would be no toll free day on the Rozelle Interchange or the greater WestConnex network for frustrated motorists.
“Given the nature of the roads that lead to the Interchange, that is not possible in the timeline,” he said.
“I would like to see a toll free period but I’ve been given strong advice, both from Transport for NSW (TfNSW) and Transurban (and) WestConnex.”
TfNSW secretary Josh Murray said there was “no way of putting an equitable toll-free process” as drivers were travelling from different directions.
However Mr Graham was hopeful that commute times had already improved after three days, and would continue to do so.
He said there has been a 66 per cent increase in drivers using the toll-free Iron Cove link which was “easing” traffic on the Victoria Rd. Travel time on the City West link has also dropped from 59 minutes to 44 minutes.
‘WTF:’ Rebel unleashes in Sydney road rant
Australian actress Rebel Wilson has become the latest critic of the Rozelle Interchange, claiming the newly opened road junction increased her commute from 15 to 90 minutes.
On Wednesday morning, the Pitch Perfect star was one of the many motorists copping delays while travelling into Sydney’s CBD.
“Thanks Rozelle Interchange for now making a 15 minute trip into the city 90 minutes via Victoria Road! WTF!!!,” she wrote.
The spaghetti junction has earned the ire of local residents since the interchange opened on Sunday.
During peak hour on Monday, motorists faced heavy congestion after confusing signage appeared to identify the Icon Cove Link towards the CBD as a toll road.
The government was forced to implement temporary signs in the lead up to the tunnel, which told motorists attempting to access the toll-free section to use the two right hand lanes.
Acting Premier Prue Car told parliament on Wednesday that the government had previously received modelling that suggested traffic delays would add five to 10 minutes to commutes between Drummoyne and the Iron Cove Bridge in the morning peak.
“Now the government did expect some congestion along Victoria Rd as well as some queuing on the M4 exit ramp in the AM peak while road users adapted and got comfortable with the changes,” she said.
Ms Car said it would take about six months until the network settled and “motorists adapted to the new conditions” and accused the former government of misleading NSW residents.
“They would have received exactly the same advice … This is consistent with the Wednesday morning peak but ultimately this part of the network won’t be completely integrated until the Western Harbour Tunnel is open in 2028,” she said.
Transport for NSW co-ordinator-general Howard Collins said it would take time for motorists to become accustomed to the section.
“New markings on Victoria Road, leading into the new tunnel, will be put in tonight to make it easier for drivers to know the best lane to be in for those heading to the city,” he said on Monday.
“We know it will take some time for motorists to become familiar with the network changes and we are exploring options to improve permanent signage around the entrance to the new tunnel to guide drivers to their desired route.”
Balmain MP Kobi Shetty has lashed the opening of the Rozelle Interchange as “an absolute mess”.
“Our community has suffered years of construction to get to this point,” she said.
“Now that the tunnel is open it’s totally unacceptable for these same people to be locked in their suburbs, unable to get to work, and unable to get their kids to school.
Transport needs to be working urgently to improve the situation for local traffic.”
The Rozelle Interchange is the final component of the WestConnex toll road, which connects the M4-M5 Link Tunnels and the City West Link and provides an untolled underground bypass of Victoria Rd between Iron Cove Bridge and the Anzac Bridge.