BRUCE Kennewell reported (25/8) that a visual record of the new Harwood Bridge is being created. Great.
Unfortunately, including the old bridge was a bad decision, which resulted in the whole interchange being a contender for a Rube Goldberg interchange competition. The current design would have only come second; first prize would have gone to the 2011 version.
- BRIDGING THE GAP - PT I: Three strikes at bridging the gap
- BRIDGING THE GAP - PT II: Townsend precinct centre
- BRIDGING THE GAP - PT III: Highway to split precinct in two
- BRIDGING THE GAP - PT IV: Highway planners take wrong option
And this shemozzle could have been avoided if the RMS had agreed to retain responsibility for the old bridge and build the freeway to the east of James Creek Road (options 3 or 4). It would also mean the new highway wouldn't bisect the Maclean-Townsend-Gulmarrad-James Creek Precinct.
It would also mean the interchange portion of Yamba Road could have been four lanes and the interchange, a regular clover leaf. On the north side it could have been a standard four T-intersection at Watts Lane.
Instead we end up with three T-intersections plus a fourth at James Creek Road and a roundabout, in less than half a kilometre, and no southbound on-ramps from Harwood Island.
Hence all Harwood traffic to or from the south of the river will now pass through the Yamba Road interchange. The sugar mill told me they have 30,000 truckloads of cane delivered each year, with about half coming from the south. This will add 15,000 x2 truck movements (as well as other Harwood traffic) passing through the Yamba Road interchange.
And keep in mind that the Yamba Road is the busiest E-W road in the 174km between Corindi to Ballina and is getting busier.
The following shows a comparison between old and new routes when transporting cane from say Byrons Lane to the Harwood Mill.
- Going to mill: Turn R onto Pacific Hwy from Byrons Lane, cruise at 100kmh to the old bridge and then 80kmh, turn R onto Watts Ln.
- Returning: From Watts Ln turn L onto Pacific Hwy, after crossing the bridge cruise at 100kmh to Byron Ln, Turn L onto Byron Ln.
- Summary: 2 RH turns, 2 LH turns, and an overall "constant" speed.
- Going to mill: Turn R onto old Pacific Hwy from Byron Lane, cruise at 100kmh to Ferry Park (FP), use roundabout 'A' to access freeway, merge onto freeway, cruise at 100kmh to Yamba Rd, take Yamba Rd exit, use roundabout 'C' to access old bridge, cross over river, turn R onto Watts Ln.
- Returning: From Watts Ln turn L onto old Pacific Hwy, cross river, use roundabout 'C' to cross under freeway, at T intersection turn R onto freeway on-ramp, merge onto freeway, cruise at 100kmh to FP, take FP exit, use roundabout 'B' to go over freeway, use roundabout 'A' to access old highway, cruise at 100kmh to Byrons Ln, turn L onto Byrons Ln.
- Summary: 2 RH turns, 2 LH turns, 5 roundabouts, 1 T-intersection, 2 freeway merges, multiple speed changes.
No wonder the sugar mill is not impressed.
Of course hindsight is useless, but it's a pity the RMS didn't have any foresight.
John Ibbotson, Gulmarrad