- Source: Amelia Harris, Brendan Lucas Herald Sun
THE removal of a lane on the Princes Bridge is causing traffic chaos on Melbourne's already clogged roads.
The flow-on impact of dramatic changes to the bridge is being felt on the Swan St Bridge, putting extra pressure on other nearby routes and is adding up to an extra 38 seconds for cars to get through the Flinders St intersection during peak times.
Peak-hour drivers stuck in traffic slammed the decision to remove one city-bound lane, saying it added anywhere from five to 30 minutes to their travel time.
The RACV said frustrated drivers were turning off St Kilda Rd on to Southbank Boulevard because the traffic was not moving or moving at a crawl.
"We have observed cars in the through lanes on St Kilda Rd at Southbank Bouvlevard seemingly waiting for the left turn lane to clear and then getting frustrated and making a last-minute change and heading down Southbank Boulevard," manager roads and traffic Dave Jones said.
"They are in the through lane and they are queued up waiting, lights are green, they can't get through and then they pull into that turn lane and make a quick turn around the corner, probably heading down to one of the alternative routes."
It took the Herald Sun 12 minutes one morning last week to drive the 1.5km from Dorcas St, South Melbourne, to Flinders St Station.
Another morning it took seven minutes.
The City of Melbourne controversially removed one lane of northbound traffic on the bridge last month in a move opposed by the RACV and VECCI.
The three-month trial, expected to cost $70,000 and part of a plan to make the city more bike-friendly, reduced the number of cars queuing northbound on the bridge from 44 to 22.
Hampton woman Joanna Finney said the bike lane should be put back on the bridge footpath.
"It has added another fifteen minutes to my commute and unfortunately there is no other way I can get to work,'' she said.
"The only other way is Punt Road but that is chaotic.''
About 34,000 motorists, 31,000 pedestrians and 5500 cyclists use the bridge each day.
Cr Richard Foster said he was very concerned at some of the anecdotes he heard about peak-hour waiting times but was waiting for official council data to make a proper assessment.
"`I am hearing stories of people waiting beyond the bridge for an additional 10 minutes,'' Cr Foster said.
"Trials like this are really valuable because in the event that they don't work it gives us an opportunity to (find) other options that do work.''
St Kilda Rd resident Marise Cheney said she thought traffic had gotten worse since the trial started and she was catching the tram more than driving.
"If I can I postpone appointments until after 9am,'' Ms Cheney said.
"`I wish they would get rid of the bloody bikes on St Kilda Rd. I reckon there would be a dust up every morning.''
Council revealed last week it would remove a lane of southbound traffic on St Kilda Rd between Alexandra Gardens and the Floral Clock to make way for a new bike lane.
Vicroads official statistics show less than 2,000 bicycles use the St Kilda Rd/Princes Bridge Bike lane. the inflated 5,500 figure was provided by the Bicycle Users Group (BUG) taken on a ride to work day. This is not the daily average