Charles duck ‘n’ dive

THREE Charles Street intersections may be sunk in prepraration for a population boom in the northern suburbs.

The plan’s in the thought-bubble stage and is likely years off, but Main Roads has started consultation early as land acquisitions may be needed.

The intersections at Vincent Street, Scarborough Beach Road and Walcott Street would be turned into “duck and dives”, short vertical bypasses that take the north-south traffic underground. Local east-west traffic would stay aboveground.

The Main Roads project video says Charles Street “is congested, with limited places for pedestrians or cyclists to cross safely, as well as an unattractive corridor to walk along or wait for buses, which are often caught in the traffic queues”. It says the duck and dives wouldn’t take up as much space as old-style solutions such as extra lanes.

Locals and social media groups haven’t embraced the concept.

“If they build this freeway this wide it’s going to destroy our neighbourhood. I’ll be looking to move – noise and pollution are already terrible,” was North Perth resident Andrew Main’s take on the concept.

He’s tried for years via letters, petitions and deputations to get both local and state governments to make Charles Street friendlier  for pedestrians and cyclists. 

The street divides Vincent neighbourhoods right down the middle and crossings are few. Main Roads says they’ll put in more signalled crossings along Charles Street and there could be wider footpaths, but there are no plans for bike lanes.

“No bike infrastructure is offensive and the other routes are less than ideal,” Mr Main says.

“Increasing car capacity has to stop. The whole reason for having roads is to get to destinations. Main Roads are intent on destroying destinations.”

Mr Main says: “The solution is public transport and probably an underground railway line along the Charles St and/or Fitzgerald Street alignments. 

“Climate is changing, the world is heating up, transport emissions are the fastest growing sector ‚Äî and Main Roads offer up a 1950s-style freeway solution.”

While Main Roads has been emphatic that road widening and acquiring bits of private property is not set in stone, there’s been some hints that’ll be a likely outcome. 

The state government’s had a longstanding “Planning Control Area” extending a couple metres either side of Charles Street that’s prevented anyone developing there. And in 2020 Main Roads paid Vincent council $475,000 for an empty lot at the corner of Charles and Vincent Street, partly inside the strip, and available for the widened duck and dive intersection. 

Main Roads is running a survey til December 1 via mysaytransport.wa.gov.au/charles-street-planning-study 

by DAVID BELL

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