Wow! I went to Perth on Monday to do some training courses and drove for the first time on the new Perth to Bunbury highway, which opened just two weeks ago after a few years of construction. Pretty impressive!
The road is smooth, and fairly flat and straight. It’s wide (two lanes all the way plus a good paved shoulder), has a cycle path running alongside it all the way from Perth to Mandurah and quite some way beyond, has rumble strips on the sides, has a massively wide median suitable for a future train line (I have no idea if one is planned, but they’ve allowed plenty of room in case they want to put one down the middle of the highway), and has very wide shoulders to the fence lines with sufficient easement for widening to three or perhaps even four lanes each way in the future. It’s good to see that some thought has gone into projecting future needs beyond perhaps 20 years.
And this new highway cuts about 30 minutes off my drive to Perth — it now takes around 2.5 hours instead of 3 (assuming good weather, and no traffic or roadworks holdups). All those 20 or so traffic lights and the up and down speed limits around Mandurah are a thing of the past now — hooray! Coming home, it took exactly 90 minutes from the Narrows Bridge to the big roundabout at Bunbury.
My only complaint: The poxy speed limit. What’s with dropping the limit from 110 km/h to 100 km/h around the Mandurah exits and then all the way to Perth? This is a brilliant wide road, with no trees on the side, no chance of hitting oncoming traffic, few entrance and exit ramps, limited crossovers, and limited likelihood of hitting wildlife such as kangaroos.
There are plenty of 110 km/h roads in WA (South West Highway south of Bunbury for starters) that are FAR more dangerous than this new highway, yet the boffins decided to cut the speed limit to 100 km/h for the last 80 km or so into Perth. Crazy.
Well done to the construction crews, and well done to ‘Alannah the Planner’ for making sure this project happened. And well done to all those who realised that planning for the future now is not such a bad idea. It’s much harder to widen a road in 5, 10, or even 50 years time if the easements haven’t been secured.