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8/22/2005
Australia: Roads Closed to Make Toll Road Profitable
Roads adjacent to Sydney Harbour Tunnel in Australia closed to force traffic to pay for tolls. Speed camera added against guidelines.

Sydney Harbour Tunnel
Thousands of Sydney motorists will have little choice but to use the new Cross City Tunnel, a toll road, as authorities plan to close adjacent routes to traffic. The move coincides with plans to install speed cameras on the 1.7 mile route also known as the Sydney Harbour Tunnel, in violation of guidelines that say the devices should only be used on roads with a history of accidents. The tunnel opens for the first time on August 28.

The Australian motorists group NRMA adds that the tunnel is "ripping-off" drivers with exorbitant rates. Casual users of the route who don't have an electronic transponder must pay A$4.90 in "registration fees" for the first use, and an extra A$1.60 for subsequent uses on top of the A$3.53 toll itself.

Authorities expect 90,000 to use the tunnel daily as routes such as the Palmer Street, Woolloomooloo turn-off close when the tunnel opens. One section of William Street will also be designated "buses only" and four other streets will be blocked to ordinary traffic. Other measures such as bicycle lanes, wider footpaths and large median strips will reduce space for vehicle traffic on nearby roads.

The Roads and Traffic Authority website claims these changes are not designed to force drivers into the toll tunnel, but rather to, "Make city streets safer and more pleasant for pedestrians, residents and business people by removing intrusive through traffic and providing more footpath space in some streets."

Source: Tunnel a black spot site before it opens (Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), 8/22/2005)

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