Somerset drive overpass, Robina. (AAP image, John Gass)
Somerset drive overpass, Robina. (AAP image, John Gass)

The surprising solution to traffic congestion

TWO leading academics say the M1 should be turned into a toll road during peak hour to help ease the city's crippling traffic woes.

The Gold Coast ground to a halt yet again yesterday with all northbound lanes of the Pacific Motorway closed for more than three hours after a major incident.

Motorists between Reedy Creek and Tugun came to a standstill.

Feeder roads were clogged and public transport was severely delayed.

A 35-year-old NSW man was killed after he was struck by a truck on the M1 at Reedy Creek about 7am.

The northbound lanes were closed during the incident. Photograph: Jason O'Brien
The northbound lanes were closed during the incident. Photograph: Jason O'Brien

Emergency services were also under pressure as they struggled to get through the build-up to reach Gold Coasters in need.

A police source told the Bulletin accidents on the M1 caused "chaos" for cops trying to get to emergency or priority jobs.

"It's chaos, although the RDOs (Regional Duty Officers) and DDOs (District Duty Officers) have got it (finding alternative routes) down to an art form.

"If there's a code 1 or code 2 job (priority jobs), we've redirected from other regions, not just within the Coast, in the past.

Traffic Gridlock M1 as seen from Smith St Overpass. Picture Mike Batterham
Traffic Gridlock M1 as seen from Smith St Overpass. Picture Mike Batterham


"Sometimes bike cops can scoot around, but they might not be equipped to attend to an emergency situation.

"There's zero way around it though."

Bond University's Urban Planning senior teaching fellow Ned Wales said migration to the Gold Coast and Tweed region was adding to road pressure.

"You've got huge land releases happening in northern New South Wales and more people moving up but the interstate relationship with the motorway has never really been worked out and there's no agreed vision in terms of the width of that road," he said.

"I do like the idea of a user-pays system, and maybe there's scope for private toll roads to be built that drivers would pay to use."



"That said, we're seeing the start of drone-type sky cars and in the next 30 to 40 years the option to be in the air will certainly be economically affordable and down the track, over the century I think more and more people will end up in the air."

Economics experts are still tallying the totals in lost revenue for people arriving late to work, chucking a sickie and dodging the shops.

Griffith Professor of Economics Tony Makin said the effects of congestion were wide-reaching.

"There are significant costs to this … there is a cost to the Gold Coast economy and also to the Brisbane economy with those people that are working in Brisbane and were delayed as well," he said.

He recommended introducing a pay-to-use toll system on the M1 during peak hours to deter unnecessary travel.

"Problems often occur at these busy times in the morning and afternoon and they're times that some people could avoid and delay their travel perhaps," he said.

"It would alleviate the problem and minimise the cost that we currently suffering from. it definitely works and there's no reason it couldn't be (successfully) applied to the M1."

However the plan has not won over the state's peak motoring body.

RACQ spokeswoman Lucinda Ross said the daily commute was already expensive and called for more money to be invested in congestion-busting projects.

"We don't support tolling on the Pacific Motorway or other key roads like the proposed Coomera Connector. Instead, we want to see the money already collected from motorists invested back into delivering key projects that would help reduce congestion," she said.