Why Gold Coast M1 sections will grind to a halt by 2018
THE M1 could reach vehicle capacity on some sections in the fast growing northern Gold Coast as early as next year, according to new research.
The Gold Coast Bulletin can reveal details of the initial design capacity for the M1 when it was built more than 20 years ago, which explains why sections at growth hot spots such as Coomera are closing in fast on gridlock.
For the eight lanes between Yatala and Oxenford, the Ausroads approved Highway Capacity Manual calculated a maximum hourly capacity of 2300 vehicles at peak flow which converts to 162,000 vehicles per day.
The latest Main Roads data, from 2016, recorded 152,177 vehicles per day for the M1 north of the Coomera interchange at Exit 54.
Figures from 2015 show some sections were recording 144,437 cars per day, suggesting an increase in traffic of up to 10,000 cars a year by 2018.
Albert MP Mark Boothman, who requested the data in State Parliament, predicts northern sections of the M1 will grind to a halt within "the next 12 months to 24 months".
"My fear is with all the off ramps, while the cars are queuing, it will reach capacity," he said.
The State Government is tackling M1 congestion at the Gateway merge at Eight Mile Plains by upgrading southbound lanes after the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said planning had also begun for the Intra-Regional Transport Corridor which the previous LNP Government forced Gold Coast City Council to take off the City Plan.
"They took the view that there was no interest in the corridor. This was an unprecedented step that shows just how little Mr Boothman cares about future planning for the Gold Coast," Mr Bailey said.
"While construction of the IRTC is not needed for several years, we're doing the planning now to make sure it is protected from development."
A Gold Coast Bulletin campaign in March led to the state and federal governments announcing a $500 million package to end congestion at the M1 section known as the "Robina carpark".
But Mr Boothman believes the focus must now turn to the city's north and Australia's fastest growing stretch from Coomera to Pimpama.
"My fear with the Games is if we have an accident, how are we going to get the officials, athletes and spectators to and from venues?" he said.
Pacific Motorway fast facts
When it was built, the prediction was the Pacific Motorway without any new supporting road networks would reach gridlock by 2020.
Former Gaven MP Dr Alex Douglas, who kept watch over the highway's data on daily traffic, early last year predicted the M1 had begun "choking".
Annual average traffic count figures from Transport and Main Roads, at that time, showed 144,437 cars were using certain sections of the M1 every day, close to the 170,000 cap needed for "stable flow".
Once the Motorway reached 150,000 it would "become a parking lot", Dr Douglas said.
The latest figures obtained by Albert MP Mark Boothman shows sections of the M1 around Coomera are recording 152,177 vehicles a day, which explains why motorists are forced to slow down on peak hour return trips from Brisbane.
Engineering data also reveals the highway's capacity is 162,000 vehicles per day.
The State Government is upgrading the Gateway merge and undertaking planning on various Motorway exits and the six-lane upgrade of the Mudgeeraba to Varsity stretch.
Areas of land are being protected for the Intra-Regional Transport Corridor, from Carrara to Coomera, but that alternative road east of the M1 will take five years to build.