First the TLDR: If you’re planning to do roadworks in a tunnel featuring a lot of traffic-flow, better to close it and redirect instead.
So I’m wondering what sort of people they have at Eastlink in charge of tunnel closures, because they sure dropped the ball tonight with their complete lack of understanding relating to the capabilities of merging motorists.
I wonder this, because they really should have close the outbound tunnel tonight.
I shall paint you a pretty picture.
The Eastern Freeway is a 3 lane freeway (surprise surprise) at the eastern-most end, it then connects straight on to Eastlink, a 3 lane toll-way, just after the Springvale road off-ramp.
On the other side of Springvale road there’s an on-ramp, effectively making it a 4 lane road at that point for a few hundred meters.
Around Blackburn Road there’s an electronic sign notifying motorists that the centre and right most lanes of the Eastlink tunnel are closed, leaving it only with one.
You drive past Springvale road, the last exit before the tunnel, only to suddenly run in to the crazy level of traffic congestion just out of sight, you are now past the point of no return, you’re committed, you become part of the mass of un-moving cars.
Now, the logical thought would be that people would merge down patiently over time, from the effective four lanes down to one, leading to a slow but steady stream of traffic.
People do not do this.
What people do is they drive as far as possible before they’re forced to merge, despite being warned well in advance that there will only be one lane.
People eventually merge, leading to a sudden lack of cars in that lane, people switch lanes to the now seemingly apparent fast flowing lane.
The people merging in to the single lane are slowing down the traffic to the point that the fast lane/s seem to be an amazing option.
The cycle continues as the traffic grinds to essentially a complete halt.
I spend around 10 minutes admiring an electronic sign giving estimates to various off-ramps and such, knowing that in the time I’ve been watching it, that first it declared 18 minutes to the Burwood Highway, briefly jumped up to 19 then back down to 18.
I eventually pass the sign.
Over time I allow a few cars in front of me, I am a benevolent god, I hold their fate in my hands as the on-ramp lane finally terminates.
More time passes as the other lanes cease to allow traffic, I allow one more in.
Blessed are those who don’t anger me.
The fuel light occasionally glares at me, begging to be fed, I can do nothing.
If I had Pokemon Go running, I could potentially have been playing it, though hatching an egg would have been out of the question.
We reach the tunnel, the traffic begins to flow to the point my speedometer actually registers movement, we even get up to 20 KM/h, despite the blink speed limit being twice this.
We exit the tunnel at the Ringwood off-ramp, all traffic disappears.
It has taken me around 40 minutes at this point to traverse around 2 kilometers.
That is 3 Kilometers an hour, I’m not sure I can walk that slow.
To put it in perspective, without the opening and ending credits, I could easily watch two full-length episodes of anime in that time, with subtitles, I would have no issue paying attention to the road.
I could watch an episode of Criminal Minds, or pretty much anything serious other than Sherlock if I skip the credits.
All this could have been avoided quite simply if they’d closed the tunnel and redirected traffic via Springvale road, 5 minutes at most to travel a greater distance.
Even visible signage declaring the roadworks in the tunnel with the opportunity to escape before hitting the Eastern Carpark.
The worst part is I’m essentially being charged money to travel at less than walking pace.