Variable-message sign touted as a fix to Gobba gridlock

A BREAKDOWN that brought peak-hour traffic on the Gobba Bridge to a screeching halt has sparked calls to install a variable-message sign (VMS) in Wagga’s northern suburbs.

Seasoned road safety engineer Lex Stewart claims the electronic-board could pre-emptively advise motorists to take an alternate route in the event of accidents, hazards and delays. 

His proposal has been applauded by a councillor. 

Mr Stewart, a former Roads and Maritime Services head of road safety, said he often approved the used VMSs to streamline traffic. 

“When I was in that position, I used them a lot – and they were far more expensive back then,” he said.

“They are extremely useful to get information to the public and to advise them ahead of time regarding traffic conditions.

“It would ease traffic flow on the bridge when motorists are able to take an alternative route, knowing how much traffic is heading in one direction.

“There’s a psychology of road signs and the people in the RMS would certainly be able to determine the viability of this.”

It comes as Wagga’s powerbrokers continue to debate the urgent need to duplicate Gobba Bridge.

Estella resident James Evans, who crosses the bridge twice a day, said a VMS was an ideal “quick fix” while the NSW government flounders to develop a duplication plan. 

”It’s the perfect way to make sure we don’t get stuck on the bridge for 25 minutes because someone hasn’t got enough fuel,” he said.

“Everybody to the north of Wagga knows that the duplication is the only permanent fix, but this is a great idea in the meantime.

“Even when a lot of bikes cross the bridge, the traffic slows right down.”

The bridge is expected to buckle under the weight of 51,700 vehicles in 2030, according to RMS.

As of 2015, the major arterial accommodated just 18,700 cars and trucks, indicating a near threefold increase in 15 years.

By having adequate notice of delays, motorists would be able to turn off the Olympic Highway overpass and onto Boorooma Street – avoiding the Gobba Bridge. 

Wagga councillor Paul Funnell believes the proposal is a great way to prevent commuters from becoming stuck on the thoroughfare. 

“There’s nothing worse than heading into town and realising that the traffic is jammed, but it’s too late to change tact,” he said.

“This is an absolute no-brainer to implement.”

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