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Your views: on freeway jams, planning and mental health

Reader contributions

Today, readers comment on road and transport planning to back up housing development, and reforming a failing mental health system.

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Commenting on the opinion piece: Freeway fail: How SA’s transport planners missed the obvious

Just before the 30 Year Plan for Greater Adelaide become widely publicised, a briefing was provided to my professional group by the consultants.

The question was asked as to how the additional traffic from the Mt Barker expansion would access the city given there is only one major route. (It was obvious to regular users of the South-Eastern Freeway that the freeway was already struggling with the increased traffic since the tunnels were opened.) There was simply a mumbled response.

The general public could readily see the future pitfalls and costs of the proposed Mt Barker extension, but then, the general public was not receiving any payment from the developers. – Rosalie Auricht

This article is missing the even more obvious: a train to Mount Barker. – Caitlin Smith

Divert heavy road freight and rail freight so that it bypasses the city, and extend the Belair rail line to Mount Barker. This will reduce congestion on the freeway, congestion on our suburban roads and improve health and safety. – Ron Bellchamber

As a shiftworker in the Adelaide CBD until recently and living at Woodside, I have watched the traffic increase over the last decade.

Over a ten year period, my commute has increased from 40 minutes to an hour. Bear in mind that this is travelling at 5am and 7pm, not the traditional rush hour.

The huge increase in housing at Mt Barker along with Meadows, Nairne, Totness, Woodside, etc has understandably led to more traffic on the road. There is no rail service to these areas. So all access to and from the city is via the South Eastern Freeway.

The new section with the Heysen tunnels which opened in 2000 was a major improvement to the Mt Barker Road section, bringing it up from a road to a freeway, the original freeway having started at Crafers.

The majority of the roadway has not changed since its design in the 1960s and opening in the early 70s. Evening traffic at the Mt Barker interchange has become so heavy that it can now back up at a standstill onto the freeway itself.

The traffic lights on the end of the off ramp were fine when they were originally installed – but no allowance has been made for the major increase in traffic volume that passes through the area now. The building of housing is still going on, with a new subdivision at Nairne and continued work at Meadows and Mt Barker.

Planning work needs to be started now to cater for not only the current problems, but also the projected increase in traffic. Back in the 1960s they planned well for the future – it is time the current government did the same. – Robert Duncan

The complete lack of somebody taking the bull by the horns when the opportunity arises has plagued this state for the last 40 years .

We have all sat back and watched the governments of the day stuff up the obvious and eventually costing the state in the brain drain and labour drain because people in general don’t have faith in any of them.

They don’t capitalise when they have the opportunity; take the southern expressway for another example and the one-way way freeway (still can’t stop laughing about it) and the SE freeway is no different.

I have lived in the hills for 30 years and all the locals would have said that it is too small and will not accommodate any future developments and increases in population. One thing that could be looked at is reintroducing the train from Mt Barker to the City to alleviate some congestion.

I am not sure whether or not they actually have a plan, they just keep on building yesterday’s roads tomorrow. – David Broad

I hope that the State Government and Minister for Transport have read David Washington’s excellent article on what transport planners have obviously ignored.

So much for Paul Holloway’s grand plan – we seriously need to think about what we are doing by all these mammoth subdivisions and increasing our population without implementing the day-to-day services (like transport) being given a priority.

What has happened since the Holloway days is that developers has been given all sorts of green lights at the expense of practicality and sensibility. Sir Thomas Playford had a vision for Elizabeth, and it succeeded because it was a clear and thoughtful plan that allowed for growth. Not so with the Mt Barker expansion.

Back to Monday night: both south-bound lanes on Portrush Road were blocked beyond Greenhill Road for hours. Drivers became frustrated and heavy vehicle drivers were using both lanes of Portrush Road, no doubt thinking that they would get up the freeway quicker by overtaking other heavy vehicles. It was an absolute shemozzle.

God forbid if an ambulance needed to attend an emergency in the streets off these major roads. Commuters on Greenhill Road travelling east were also impacted by the delays – the eastern side of the city was in gridlock.

We used to have the wonderful title of being the “20-minute city” – no longer. Why have we lost the ability to safely commute without the chaos of Monday night? Roadworks and a heavy vehicle breakdown is no excuse.

Instead of the insane amount of moneys being spent on the intersection of Magil/Portrush Roads and Cross/Fullarton Roads, the transport gurus need to firstly address the major intersection at Cross/Glen Osmond/Portrush/SE Freeway – the camber on the roads is awful and heavy vehicles should find another route as this is a dangerous intersection in all directions, as seen by various fatalities that have occurred in recent years.

Widening the roads and demolishing more homes is not the answer; rather better traffic management systems would certainly help. I believe that a trial period, say three months,  restricting heavy vehicles from these roads between 5pm-7pm would dramatically improve travel for the Hills commuters as well as those of us that live close to these roads. Better still, we need a heavy vehicle by-pass. Action is required now. – Paula Furlani

The real issue is not diversifying the commercial centres of Adelaide further afield. Currently all roads lead to the Adelaide CBD – why don’t we start shifting more offices into satellite city environments. 

Industry could start expanding into outer areas eg Monarto South, Murray Bridge. We must shift to where the people are versus this need to congregate in the city. – Jim Manning

Commenting on the opinion piece: Community is key to easing mental health crisis

I have been advocating on or researching mental health in SA since 2005 and contributed to the Productivity Commission Report on their Mental Health Inquiry as the former co-convenor of the Public Health Association of Australia’s mental health interest group.

Immediately following deinstitutionalisation in SA, there was little investment in community-based support or housing for people with psychiatric disability and public housing was dwindling, as it has continued to do. Mental health funding was largely tied to the state’s institution (Glenside) for a long time.

Now we have the NDIS and reports suggest that the transition for those requiring disability support services has been slow in South Australia, but many are accessing supports for the first time.

If presentations to ED in one region have gone up 40% across 2 years, there is something still seriously wrong with our mental health system and our capacity to respond at certain periods (how was mental health considered in the Covid-19 emergency planning?).

Regarding mental health ED presentations, if someone is waiting in mental health distress 3-4 days in ED, and being restrained, without counselling or other support, as we have heard, then this is a human rights issue.

We cannot continue to ignore the problem or indicators – whether or not we have a Mental Health Service Plan it is clear there is something wrong with our system.

I commend John Mendoza for speaking up about these issues, in the absence of other services doing the same, or presenting information in the absence of such data being available to the broader public.

Solutions such as ‘Housing First’ are necessary for people with psychiatric disability – housing with linked disability support and separate from clinical care. Obviously not all people going to ED will have a psychiatric disability and require housing linked to ongoing disability support services.

Conversely, all people released from ED require follow up care in the community.

Urgent mental health care facilities run by specialist mental health NGOs may be working in some places overseas – but does this  go against mainstreaming and deinstitutionalisation principles? We need more community based mental health care centres, but do we need specialist emergency type facilities to address the problem of lack of housing and community based care, or lack of capacity of the system to respond during a crisis? How will the government be accountable for these centres? – Samantha Battams

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