The term 'Spaghetti Junction' was originally applied to the Gravelly Hill interchange near Birmingham UK , which opened in 1972. British comedian Ken Dodd called it 'the eighth wonder of the world' - because once you were on it, you wondered how you could get off! The term has now been applied to the new WestConnex Rozelle interchange in Sydney, which opened this week amid chaos - including near-misses as cars slowed and even reversed to avoid going the wrong way. Poor signage has been blamed.

Westconex sign

SpaghettJunction Gravelly Hill InterchangeThe original 'Spaghetti Junction' in Birmingham, UK, 1972. No tunnels though.Road signage is critical, both for safety and wayfinding reasons. It appears that the new Rozelle interchange in Sydney's inner West is suffering from poorly planned signage if reports on Networks 10,7 and 9 are anything to go by.

Following a chaotic Monday morning opening on Sydney's own “spaghetti junction” at Rozelle, additional  signs are being installed as a matter of urgency. A government spokesperson also warned that GPS direction finding will take at least 2-3 weeks to be updated.

The new WestConnex Rozelle interchange connects drivers to the M4 and M8 tunnel extensions, the Anzac Bridge, City West Link and the Western Distributor. It deploys a combination of tunnels and overpasses.

It comprises 16.6 kilometres of tunnels and claims to save 20 minutes on a Sydney to Parramatta commute, for example. Motorists WestConnex Ch7footageThanks to Ch7's Sunrise for this imagehave been making last-second lane changes, with one shown on TV news  stopping and reversing reverse on the freeway, unsure of where to go. Channel 7's Sunrise news showed live footage of cars weaving, stopping and even reversing in confusion.

In an ABC interview, one motorist said: “This is a planning disaster, an absolute failure, “I've had anightmare morning commute. “It's taken me me an hour-and-a-half and normally it takes 30 minutes."

WestConnes Spaghetti pathCarriageways of new WestConnex junctionThe main offending sign says a tunnel goes to Port Botany, the M8 and is a toll road. “It’s super confusing, it’s poorly signposted, people are weaving in and out of lanes. I have no idea how this has been so badly planned,” said a motorist. The sign reads “Tunnel City to M8 toll Port Botany” – but does not make it clear there is no toll on the tunnel between the Iron Cove Bridge and the Anzac Bridge. That meant many drivers stayed on Victoria Road rather than bypass traffic along the Iron Cove Link.

NSW Premier Chris Minns, when interviewed, commented that the signage had: “not been good enough.”

He added: “Many people weren’t aware that you could use a big chunk of that new roadway and not have to pay a toll at all. So, the signage has got to be better. It will get better, GPS will catch up and they’ll used the learned knowledge of repeat car activity to demonstrate you can use this roadway without having to pay a toll. But I appreciate it hasn’t been good this morning."

Additional variable message signs and extra portable signs were turned on in the lead-up to the tunnel, reminding motorists to use the two right-hand lanes to access the toll-free section of the tunnel between the Iron Cove Bridge and Anzac Bridge. New lane markings are also planned overnight.
Authorities expect congestion on the interchange may take “up to six months to settle down” as drivers became familiar with the network and vehicle GPS systems update.
It goes to show the importance of accurate and unambiguous road signage, planned, written prepared and installed by professionals.
In the meantime, if you are using the new 'Spaghetti Junction' in either direction, take it slowly and carefully until everyone is familiar with the pasta!
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