Slings and Arrows: Council’s Congestion Cash Crop

A recent scan of issues guaranteed to bug Adelaide’s commuters is how clogged the city streets now are, and how challenging it is to drive from one side to the other without getting stuck in a council-confected jam.

B A Y O N E T S   F I X E D

City commuters – note Friday, June 24, as a day to avoid the square mile. A gridlock on routes leading to King William Street is guaranteed – multiple road closures to facilitate a ‘Right of Entry’ march-past via Town Hall by the navy crew of HMAS Adelaide. Ash can see it now – blocked Victoria Drive, King William Street and Road and Pirie Street will gridlock thousands of cars and delivery trucks while old Town Hall hats will wave to naval boots tramping “in full panoply with swords drawn, bayonets fixed, drums beating, bands playing and colours flying”. How easily this ancient panto – a repeat occurrence with Navy over the years – could be transferred to the Torrens Parade ground, using just University Drive, to avoid city paralysis, driver angst and pedestrian frustration, and to cut policing costs to a fraction of what is budgeted. But no, the show must go on in the CBD. The performance dates back to 1661 in the UK when London’s Lord Mayor was noti fied when military units entered the city to “raise recruits”. Adelaide’s folly also might raise recruits – for road rage.

M E N T A L   B L O C K

Council recently studied its history of ‘temporary road closures’ and concluded that they “add to the vibrancy of the city”. Execs claim that road blocks are only approved if traffic management cockups are avoided, emergency services can still get through, and buses and pedestrians are not a ffected. Clearly, this lot must be blind, deaf and dumb, because all those outcomes result, and nobody in the o ffice cares a jot. The annual average over the past five years is about 47 events – almost one a week. All result in gridlock fury somewhere in the city, turning roads into car parks, leaving drivers log jammed. Closures prompt piles of paperwork and net council about $30,000. Cop this – a temporary closure averages a hapless council sta ffer 18 hours’ paperwork to get approval at a per-item cost of $1,800, and then there’s the cost of providing temporary controls – that takes another 16 hours’ work, “which involves two people to install, maintain and remove” the temporary control. Then someone has to write a tra ffic management plan. The fees for commercial applicants seeking road blocks vary from $1,000 to $20,000 – the upper limit probably applying to the Navy bells and whistles (as also applies for the annual Fringe Parade, but both are non-commercial and would be cost-free, so only thousands of stranded, frustrated drivers, cyclists and pedestrians end up paying the metaphorical price). There also have to be pre-event meetings, site visits, determinations of the boundaries, liaison with the police, ambos and firies and then a rubber stamp from the boss. “Each step is required to ensure that the closure does not adversely a ffect tra ffic conditions … public transport, emergency services…” administrators say. But they all do! Far from being concerned at the chaos each causes, now Town Hall wants to get the government’s OK to ‘streamline and simplify the temporary closure of roads to facilitate events’. Clearly it’s a growth industry! There’s no truth to the rumour that the whole of King William Street and Road will be permanently closed as a cost-saving measure. It would put at least two staff members on the dole, make redundant the rubber stamp parade, wipe $30,000 revenue from the books and let the police go back to fighting crime. Welcome to 19th century vibrancy. Ashley White fly is Executive Director of the Adelaide White fly Institute of Diplomatic Studies

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