M1 carpark the ‘gorilla’ on our backs

A VISITING former Victorian Premier caught in traffic has reignited calls for an urgent M1 fix, with the city tourism boss likening it to a "gorilla" on the loose choking growth.

Ex-Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett, among guest speakers at yesterday's Going for Gold symposium in Surfers Paradise, was half an hour late and didn't hold back blasting the M1.

"I drove from Brisbane this morning on, well, the carpark.

Jeff Kennett (right), former Victorian Premier, arrives late for the Going for Gold Commonwealth Games Symposium at the Marriott Surfers Paradise, sitting next to Legacy Advisory Committee chairman Rob Borbidge. Picture: Adam Head
Jeff Kennett (right), former Victorian Premier, arrives late for the Going for Gold Commonwealth Games Symposium at the Marriott Surfers Paradise, sitting next to Legacy Advisory Committee chairman Rob Borbidge. Picture: Adam Head

"I just hope that your guests coming here for the Commonwealth Games come by train because if they come on the freeway most of them will miss the event they are coming to see."

Gold Coast Tourism CEO Martin Winter said if the M1 - prone to traffic-stopping snarl-ups every time there is an accident - was not fixed within just "a few years" it would start to impact visitor numbers to the city.

"It's like the gorilla in the cage that has escaped from the zoo. It's the number one, two and three story on the Gold Coast because in a few years if we can't solve that issue it's going to choke growth," Mr Winter said.

Jeff Kennett’s take on the M1: “I drove from Brisbane this morning on, well, the carpark.” Picture: Adam Head
Jeff Kennett’s take on the M1: “I drove from Brisbane this morning on, well, the carpark.” Picture: Adam Head

About a third of all Chinese and Japanese tourists to the Gold Coast arrived via the M1 and any trip taking longer than an hour was a turn-off, he added.

Asked if he could change one thing on the Gold Coast as a priority, Mayor Tom Tate said it would be building a second M1.

The Games organising committee's gridlock-busting traffic plan during the Games includes dropping speed limits in sections by 10km per hour to guard against likelihood of crashes.

M1 traffic response teams will also be beefed up while athletes and officials will have special access to the highway shoulder lane if needed to ensure they get to events on time.

Gold Coast Tourism Chief Executive Officer Martin Winter on the M1: “It’s like the gorilla in the cage that has escaped from the zoo. It’s the number one, two and three story on the Gold Coast because in a few years if we can’t solve that issue it’s going to choke growth,”.
Gold Coast Tourism Chief Executive Officer Martin Winter on the M1: “It’s like the gorilla in the cage that has escaped from the zoo. It’s the number one, two and three story on the Gold Coast because in a few years if we can’t solve that issue it’s going to choke growth,”.

Commonwealth Games and also Tourism Minister Kate Jones called the M1 an ongoing problem and in response to what was being done to fix it, said: "I don't know why Malcolm Turnbull feels he should kick in only 50 per cent for the M1 (fix) and 80 per cent for every other Federal road.

"They are taking the Gold Coast for granted," she said. "We will continue to have discussions with Federal Government about what is a Federal road and to be honest with you I think Gold Coasters deserve better.

"We have invested a significant amount of State money as part of the Games for upgrades to state roads and intersections."

Kate Jones, Minister for Tourism, Major Events and the Commonwealth Games speaks at the Going for Gold Commonwealth Games Symposium at the Marriott Resort Surfers Paradise. Picture: Adam Head
Kate Jones, Minister for Tourism, Major Events and the Commonwealth Games speaks at the Going for Gold Commonwealth Games Symposium at the Marriott Resort Surfers Paradise. Picture: Adam Head

Back in August, Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey revealed a publicity blitz in the Games lead-would urge drivers effectively not to use the M1 if possible.

"We will be saying if you are going to Games, if you can stay on the Gold Coast and be near the venue that's preferable, make a day of it and enjoy it," he said at the time.

Queensland Minister for Main Roads. (AAP Image/Darren England)
Queensland Minister for Main Roads. (AAP Image/Darren England)

Latest figures from a Brisbane City Council traffic website show about 150,770 vehicles each day travel from the Beenleigh north exit to the Gateway Arterial Road turn-off on the M1.

Traffic monitoring reveals vehicles are travelling at around 43km/h in the morning, and their speeds peak to about 72km/h in the afternoon peak, well below the 110km/h speed limit.

Ausroads approved Highway Capacity Manual predicts the eight-lane highway will be at capacity at 162,000 vehicles.

Sections of the M1 cutting through the fast-growing northern Coast suburbs will almost certainly hit that mark within two years.

North bound traffic on the M1 backs up after a truck accident at Nerang earlier this year. Picture by Scott Fletcher
North bound traffic on the M1 backs up after a truck accident at Nerang earlier this year. Picture by Scott Fletcher

Chamber of Commerce Queensland general manager Kate Whittle said it was difficult to determine a tipping point when commuters would opt for public transport rather than risk gridlock in their cars on the M1.

"This is difficult to determine as the cost of using the public transport system is prohibitively expensive," she said.

"A daily round trip by train costs over $20 per day - over $100 per week with a similar transit time to travelling by car.

"Congestion would have to significantly deteriorate to convince commuters to shift transport modes."



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