Signage has appeared along Rosanna Road in Heidelberg taped to road-side electrical poles, expressing dismay at the conditions of the road and associated traffic. The five signs lined up at roughly 20 metre intervals are reminiscent of Three Billboards, the 2017 film where protagonist Mildred Hayes hopes to evoke action with blatant public beckoning in signage.
The billboards along Rosanna Road read, “We’re Trucked Off!,” “Fix Rosanna Road Now,”5 Lanes Where 4 Fit,” “Kids At Risk,” and “This FWY Has No Sound Barriers.”
The group responsible for the signage released this statement: “the purpose of the signs was to send a message to government that the community is fed up with this local road being treated as a free way, and that the design of the road is not appropriate to the way it is used as a national freight route. It puts the community at risk.”
One local resident, identified only as Garry, resonated the messages in the signage. He understands their frustration. “It’s so congested that at times it is basically an elongated car park; cars are stand-still,” Garry said. A sentiment echoed by Liberal MP Matthew Guy. “Local streets are becoming a car park.”
Turning into his own driveway from the busy street is a challenge in itself. “It’s a nightmare…You’re tooted at in your own driveway no matter how much notice is given (to others) with indicator.”
Worried at the vast amount of traffic, he remains hesitant to leave any windows or doors open, fearing toxic fumes. This is not an unfounded concern.
A report published in The Age back in 2010 revealed that, “Traffic pollution within a 500-metre radius of a major thoroughfare was likely to exacerbate asthma in children, trigger new asthma cases across all ages, impair lung function in adults, and could cause cardiovascular illness and death.”
”Reports like this,” Environment Protection Authority Victoria director Stuart McConnell explained, “Show that air pollution does impact on human health and provides evidence to support actions to further reduce air pollution.”
“The atmosphere is toxic,” Garry says.
Upon purchasing the house, Garry’s first choice of action was to rid the house of its front garden and replace it with a cemented portion of driveway, providing a turning point, a process that set him back $15,000. This offers a much easier exit than his neighbours alternative; reversing out into oncoming traffic. When his neighbour suffered a heart-attack this past year, paramedics called to the scene were forced to utilise Garry’s broadened driveway to get to their patient.
A comment from the Facebook page of North East Link read: “We know how frustrating these roads are for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.”
“North East Link will remove up to 11,000 vehicles a day from Rosanna Road, and up to 3,000 vehicles from Upper Heidelberg Road between Banksia St and Studley Road.”
This road between Darebin and Burgundy streets has long been on RACV Redspot lists; a list of the most congested roads in Melbourne. The last State Budget included $3.12 million to reduce congestion and improve safety.
“Our congestion data confirms that it continues to cause delays as cars and trucks filter through suburbs such as Bulleen, Heidelberg and Rosanna each day to make their way between the end of the Metropolitan Ring Road in Greensborough and the Eastern Freeway,” RACV reports. RACV suggests the solution can be found in the North East Link. “The State Budget in 2018/19 allocated $3.1 million to reduce congestion and improve safety, which will only make a small dent in the problem before the North East Link project is completed. This narrow arterial road will continue to be a major truck and commuter route until the North East Link opens.”
Rosanna Road, Heidelberg came equal third on RACV’s Hotspot with Kings Way, Southbank. Each received 14% of the votes.
As well as frustrating residents, evoking rage, and potentially providing a impeding on the health of locals, the conditions have had impact of housing values. Streets running parallel are worth at least $200,000 more on the market at present.
Garry is now at the point of wishing his house be collected under government acquisition. “Really, the best thing would be for the government to collect my property. Take it for face value, demolish it all and make the road better,” he said.
Exchanging of property is more tenable under the government’s direction, as property sales would indicate along Rosanna road.
A property with less amenities sold for more than one located on Rosanna Road.
“No one wants to buy here, no one wants to live on this road,” Garry explained.
Signs weren’t the limit for the group making a statement. The group has also been known to plan collective parking during peak-hour traffic, a tactic thought to emphasise congestion.
Traffic congestion costs Australia’s economy about $5.54 billion a year and makes arterial roads dangerous for all road users.
The signage has since been taken down.