Thousands of Clontarf and Balgowlah Heights residents will be forced to go the long way round, if a plan to close off access to Manly Rd and Spit Bridge goes ahead.
The State Government wants to build a recessed bus stop and permanently block Heaton Ave Clontarf, in an effort to free up traffic flow in the kerbside bus lane on the run down to the Spit Bridge. It’s in preparation for the new express B-Line buses, which will run between Mona Vale and the CBD every five minutes during the morning and evening peak, and every ten minutes at other times.
White the closure would give buses a quicker downhill run, it would be a disaster for local residents. They would have to backtrack through suburban streets to join the morning logjam on Sydney Rd, a daunting prospect as access roads through both Seaforth and Balgowlah are already unable to cope in the morning rush.
Local schools, including Balgowlah Heights Public School, St Cecilia's Catholic School and Balgowlah Boys, would all be affected by greater traffic volumes, as would Balgowlah Heights shops and many residential streets.
To add insult to injury, Clontarf, Seaforth and Balgowlah Heights residents can’t even use the new B-Line service, as their ‘local’ bus stop is actually in Manly Vale.
Residents' groups, including Clontarf Community Forum and North Harbour Residents Group are fighting the closure. A change.org petition to local MP and premier Mike Baird, Transport Minister Andrew Constance, B-Line Project manager Neil Dix, and Northern Beaches Council administrator Dick Persson and GM Mark Ferguson, has gained almost 1000 signatures in just a few days; and an online survey of residents’ travel needs has begun.
North Harbour Residents Group secretary Terry Le Roux says blocking off Heaton Ave won’t just affect local commuters - everyone in Manly will feel the pain as tailbacks along the entire length of Sydney Rd get worse, along with ‘rat runs’ along alternative routes.
Former Manly Councillor Candy Bingham called on the government to listen to the local point of view.
“The problem here is that cars from Heaton Ave are slowing down traffic because they have to get out of the kerbside lane quickly and merge right,” she said. “So a short term solution would be to give drivers a longer stretch of road from which to merge.”
“Blocking off roads will just lead to even more congestion and longer tailbacks at choke points, and worse gridlock on Sydney Rd. I know that Transport NSW says it will improve traffic flow at the Sydney Rd/Manly Rd / Burnt Bridge Creek Deviation intersection. But that completely fails to address the major impact this will have on traffic in local streets of Manly, where the only B-Line stop will be Manly Vale".
Mrs Bingham said that while the B-Line bus will help some commuters, it’s not a long term solution.
You can sign the petition here
Or click here for the travel survey
Candy Bingham, Manly Ward Councillor on Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations and community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.