Victorian roads get smarter with new network plans

By: Graham Gardiner

New world-leading transport management guidelines will reduce congestion and prioritise public transports routes, bringing the best out of Melbourne’s existing

New world-leading transport management guidelines will reduce congestion and prioritise public transports routes, bringing the best out of Melbourne’s existing road infrastructure, Roads and Ports Minister Tim Pallas announced today.

Pallas says the Australian-first SmartRoads operating plans will improve the efficiency of metropolitan road network for all transport modes – including trams, buses, taxis, cyclists, cars and walking.

"The Brumby Labor Government is taking action to build a better transport system, so people can spend less time commuting and more time with family and friends," he says.

"SmartRoads is an innovative approach to managing Melbourne’s arterial road network – giving priority to different transport modes at certain times of the day.

"By designating which modes have priority on particular roads, we can make the system work better for everyone, rather than every mode competing for space all on the one road.

"The aim is to reduce delays and congestion for commuters and make the most of our existing road space and use SmartRoads to guide planning into the future and encourage smarter road sharing."

Pallas says SmartRoads is a long-term plan for smarter management of traffic, with the real benefits seen into the future.

"People will be making informed decisions about what type of transport to use and when it’s best to travel with the knowledge the network is being managed efficiently for this purpose," he says.

"It’s a smarter way of managing the roads and making sure we’re moving people and goods around the network as efficiently as possible – it’s world-best practice and we’re committed to ensuring Melbourne and Victoria has a world-class transport system.

"While new road links will always play an important role in our growing city, we understand the need to make the most out of our existing inner metropolitan road space, to make all transport types more effective in the longer term."

The SmartRoads network operating plans are a work in progress and are being developed by VicRoads in partnership with the Department of Transport and local councils, setting mode priorities in each municipality – with 24 councils already indicating their support.

Pallas says the metropolitan network is carrying more vehicles than ever before, with more than 80 percent of Melbourne’s public transport services also on road, leaving buses and trams competing for limited road space.

"All road users will continue to have access to all roads. But using this knowledge of road priority for different journeys, SmartRoads will inform new upgrades and choices about our transport system into the future," he says.

"However, under the plan, certain routes will be managed, at certain times of day, to work better for cars and trucks, and others will be best suited for public transport, cyclists and pedestrians.

"Importantly SmartRoads also complements vital Victorian Transport Plan projects, and will combine key road infrastructure improvements with a comprehensive plan of how our metropolitan road network will work sustainably into the future."

Into the future SmartRoads will be used to guide improvements to the network, including more effective use of traffic signals to allow extra time for trams and buses, intelligent crossings that detect the presence of pedestrians cyclists and improved co-ordination to assist with traffic flow.

Other technology innovations such as the variable message and ramp metering systems being implemented on the M1 upgrade project will support the plan.

Providing real-time traffic information from VicRoads will also help road users to make smarter travel choices.

The Principal Bicycle Network is currently being reviewed and will be used in a further round of consultation with key stakeholders, including Bicycle Victoria and local governments, to inform the plan in respect of bicycle priority routes.

VicRoads has also started working with regional centres to expand the concept outside of metropolitan Melbourne.

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