Stop North East Link Alliance

The North East Link: Will it be unsafe?

Road safety engineers have questioned the safety of the spaghetti junction which will be built at the southern end of the North East Link. See the article below from Matt Johnson (Herald Sun 12/02/2023).

THE massive spaghetti junction being built at the southern end of the $16bn North East Link includes “dangerous” turn-offs and ramps, according to experienced road safety engineers.

Rob Morgan and Andrew O’Brien – who have more than seven decades of experience between them – say split lanes create nightmare merge points across the Bulleen interchange and that the design will increase the risk of crashes.

In a lengthy assessment of the project provided to North East Link last year, Mr Morgan, a Bulleen resident, said unless rectified, confused motorists were likely to swerve across lanes or even travel the wrong way up a bus ramp.

“Crashes will happen,” he said.

“There are three areas where the design is far too complicated and drivers will make mistakes.

“I find it incredible that someone could come up with such a complicated design and think it will be workable. Creating complex road layouts leads to more crashes.” The three main problems he cites include: A SPLIT left turn on to North East Link and Thompsons Rd, southbound on Bulleen Rd; A “BIZARRE” split right turn off the Bulleen Rd bridge when heading north on to North East Link and Thompsons Rd, and; POOR separation between a busway lane and an entry ramp.

The experienced engineer has form warning of poor infrastructure designs, after warning of issues on the Bolte Bridge in the 1990s when it was built.

He said the crash risk flaws were eventually rectified years later, at vast cost.

Mr Morgan’s North East Link assessment has been backed by road safety engineer Andrew O’Brien, who was engaged by local councils to advocate on their behalf during the project’s environmental effects statement process.

“It’s a disaster waiting to happen,” he said.

Chief executive of the North East Link project, Duncan Elliott, dismissed the concerns and said the road’s design had been refined by global experts.

“Some of the best engineers, designers and builders from across Australia and around the world have worked for years to refine the design of North East Link to ensure it delivers the best outcome for the whole community,” Mr Elliott said.

“The simpler ramp layout provides the best possible outcome in terms of traffic and road safety and also means that the project can avoid the historic river red gum on Bridge St, limit impacts on Bulleen Art and Garden, avoid impacts to Banksia Park, and create more space for new wetlands along the Yarra River.” Mr Morgan has called for an independent expert panel to review the designs, and said overseas designers were not familiar with local conditions, roads and signs.

“This may be Australia’s most costly infrastructure project, but in Bulleen it is a cut-price design that will cause crashes,” he said.