The NRMA has called on the next federal government to establish a fund to fight traffic congestion.
As the federal election looms, the Demand Better Roads campaign is in full swing with the NRMA seeking support for the fund from both the federal government and the opposition.
The motoring body says that the $150 million fund would be available to both the NSW Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) and local councils to fund solutions to local congestion problems.
Councils and the RMS would be able to lodge applications for funding, to then be judged on merit by a panel consisting of the NRMA as well as federal government and council representatives.
The NRMA claims that local councils manage 90 percent of the NSW road network.
NRMA President Wendy Machin said that Sydney in particular was suffering from a congestion crisis.
"If Sydney doesn’t work, Australia doesn’t work, and this city has a serious congestion problem - it’s affecting our quality of life and hurting businesses," Ms Machin said.
"Much of the congestion occurs on local streets that lead to major roads and occurs outside of normal weekday peak hours so if we’re going to improve the way Sydney moves we need to find creative solutions to these problems.”
The plan would encourage applicants to use creativity and technology to improve traffic congestion such as roundabouts, replacing roadside parking with off-street parking and providing real-time parking information to drivers to save them from circling around built-up areas.
Traffic congestion could cost the economy $20 billion by 2020, with almost $8 billion of that cost belonging to Sydney.
A recent study of NSW businesses by the NRMA found that traffic congestion was contributing to the number of sick days taken by employees and increasing business costs by as much as $5000 per year.
Creative solutions from the NRMA for councils and the RMS to consider:
- Using technology to monitor parking availability - giving drivers real-time information on the location of parking spots. This will prevent drivers circling busy areas looking for parking.
- Applying physical solutions to local congestion hotspots such as installing roundabouts, widening small sections of roads and turning lanes.
- Replacing roadside parking at sensitive traffic locations with off-street parking facilities.
- Data collection and information sharing ideas that can help councils monitor traffic volumes as people travel through council jurisdictions, use bus movements to monitor travel times and better traffic light management by the RMS; and
- New ways to better manage local school runs such as replacing zebra crossings with traffic lights on busy through routes and providing short-term drop off bays for parents.