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2/3/2006
Australia: Traffic Lights Modified to Funnel Traffic Into Toll Tunnel
Traffic lights in Sydney, Australia were modified to create gridlock forcing frustrated motorists into a controversial toll tunnel.

Peter Debnam
Testimony yesterday in a New South Wales, Australia parliamentary inquiry into the Cross City Tunnel uncovered evidence of significant engineering alterations made in an attempt to force motorists onto the toll road. Opposition leader Peter Debnam charged the Labor government with adjusting signals at 400 intersections along Williams Street and other nearby roads in such a way as to create additional gridlock.

In January, Debnam's formal Freedom of Information request for full data on traffic light timing changes was rejected on the grounds that it might "facilitate the commission of a terrorist attack."

"It demonstrates the Labor Government's continuing contempt for the community and the public's right to know," Debnam said. "It defies belief they would attempt to use a counter-terrorism excuse to hide their rip-off of motorists."

The parliament formed the Joint Select Committee on the Cross City Tunnel to examine other controversial measures including road closings forced by non-compete provisions in the contract. A community liaison group member for the tunnel testified that the narrowing of lanes on adjacent, free roads came as a shock to area residents.

"Suddenly overnight, like mushrooms, concrete barriers are built," Suzanne O'Connor testified. "They were very keen on traffic calming, which apparently is jargon for funneling. So there was a lot of jargon, a lot of English being abused, again I think... in an attempt to keep the implications hidden."

Tunnel usage so far has fallen to less than half the initial goal of 90,000 motorists per day. Nonetheless, even without expected rate increases the road is on track to make A$800 million in revenue in the next fifteen years.



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