Perth’s south-east transport corridor is experiencing growing levels of congestion and road crashes as traffic volumes grow. This is being driven by population and economic growth, related to urban and industrial developments along the corridor.
The Tonkin Highway is a 44 km north–south highway and partial freeway that provides passenger and freight access to key industrial and commercial areas, including Perth Airport, the Kewdale intermodal facility, and the Kewdale, Forrestfield and Welshpool strategic industrial areas.
From 2013 to 2016, 80% of total crashes on the Tonkin Highway were rear-end incidents. This is well above Perth’s metropolitan average of 45%. In 2017–18, the highway (south of Great Eastern Highway) carried over 98,000 vehicles per working weekday in both directions, 11% of which were heavy vehicles.
Continued urban and industrial growth will exacerbate the congestion and safety issues along the south-east corridor.
Some of this growth is expected to occur in Byford, at the southern end of the corridor, where the population is forecast to grow by 9% per annum to 2026.
Together, strong demand for transport and a reliance on private vehicles will increasingly strain the transport network and could lead to higher levels of congestion and poor safety outcomes.
With improved transport options, there is an opportunity for higher density and mixed-use development in these areas to serve the growing population.
Potential initiatives to reduce congestion and improve road safety include road widening, grade separations at major intersections, potentially extending the Tonkin Highway south to provide transport access to rapidly growing residential areas, and improved freight connections to Fremantle Port. It could also include extending the existing rail line to Byford to continue supporting its urban development.
The Western Australian Government is proposing a multi-modal approach to address the problems on the corridor:
Upgrade the section of Tonkin Highway between Collier Road and Great Eastern Highway (known as the Tonkin Highway Gap).
Construct interchanges south of Roe Highway (at Hale Road, Welshpool Road East, and Kelvin Road).
Construct a future extension of Tonkin Highway to the Byford area in the south.
Extend the Armadale Rail Line to service the Byford area, which is being explored through the METRONET rail program.
These potential proposals should be subject to detailed assessment of their costs and benefits, and in particular, how they work together as an integrated program.
Proponent to identify initiatives and develop options (Stage 2 of Infrastructure Australia’s Assessment Framework).