Just caught a rather long-winded bus home, as it got a bit caught up in the gridlock that seems to have descended upon Herne Bay in the past couple of weeks. This is generally related to the roadworks that are currently going on along Curran Street in Ponsonby/Herne Bay. These roadworks are, strangely enough, part of the Victoria Park Tunnel project – as they involve re-routing a watermain to go via a different route between the city and the harbour bridge.

Anyway, basically since the beginning of the year Curran Street has been closed to ‘downhill’ traffic heading towards the Harbour Bridge – and vehicles have had to travel via Shelly Beach Road or Hamilton Road. I must say that I found it odd that if Curran Street was narrowed to one way only, that you’d make that one direction being “uphill” rather than downhill. This is because Curran Street acts as basically an extension of an onramp onto the Harbour Bridge, and I would say about 95% of the vehicles that use Curran Street are heading ‘downhill’, just as probably 95% of the vehicles that use Shelly Beach Road are heading uphill. For the last few weeks we’ve ended up having the arrangement shown in the diagram below: While our street (Hamilton Road) has certainly been a bit busier than usual, this seems to have worked out OK. I think most of the traffic has used Shelly Beach Road as the preferred way to access the motorway – which makes sense as the intersection at the top of it has traffic lights, and it’s already a fairly busy road. However, yesterday I noticed that there had been a subtle, but significant, change to the area of road closed, with access from Sarsfield Street onto the motorway no longer possible. This meant that to get from Hamilton Road to the motorway I had to head up to Jervois Road, along it, down Shelly Beach road, along Sarsfield Street and then onto the motorway. No real big hassle, although the signage was certainly confusing with circle and diamond shaped detour signs located seemingly at random all over the place.

This morning, as I wandered up to the bus stop on Jervois Road I noticed that there were a heck of a lot of vehicles heading up Hamilton Road – which certainly seemed strange as most of the additional traffic we’ve had is heading down the street. I haven’t confirmed it, but I am guessing that these were vehicles intending to head north on the motorway from Sarsfield Street, but had to make a last minute detour because of the road closure – something like the journey shown in the diagram below: This evening clearly the same problem was happening, with cars the length of Hamilton Road, cars backed up along Jervois road everywhere, cars all over Shelly Beach Road and so forth. The obvious problem to me (aside from closing the wrong side of Curran Street) is poor communication. The detour signage is, to be frank, pretty pathetic and confusing. If the connection between Sarsfield Street and the Harbour Bridge simply had to be shut, then there should have been good signage on Jervois Road very early on telling everyone to not use Sarsfield Street.

Here are a couple of photos showing the gridlock along normally quiet Hamilton Road: Hopefully some lessons will be learned from today’s mess and things might be a bit better tomorrow. On a personal level, I’m glad to bypass the whole mess by catching the bus into town.

Edit: this gridlock might have been exacerbated, but didn’t seem to be caused by, today’s power cuts, as traffic lights in the immediate area seemed to be on when I went through there. ¬†Lights further back towards Ponsonby were out, but that was quite separate!

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