Peters post yesterday reminded me about a post I had intended to write myself based on that Phoebe piece but from a different perspective. Reading it and some of the comments below made me wonder why people think that the speed should be higher and as I’m not that familiar with the area so I made a trip out there courtesy of google maps and street view. The section mentioned was between Pinehill and Northcross so focusing my efforts there and looking at the images, it pretty clearly shows why people think the speed limit needs to be faster. The road is mostly a single lane each way except for around a couple of intersections and is pretty straight, further the houses and many of the footpaths are placed well back from the road. All of these things help make the road feel safer and therefore make it easier to travel faster on it. Here is an image from just one place along the road where you can see just how much space there is, even when there are two lanes (intersections are just behind the image).
So even with two lanes there are substantial road reserves but just how wide is it? The councils GIS viewer helps here with the overlay for property boundaries.
That shows us that all up the road reserve is about 40m wide which is absolutely massive considering that the road itself is only 12m wide. Even factoring in having 4 lanes, wider footpaths etc. there is probably something like 15m of road space sitting being used for nothing but growing grass. My guess is the traffic engineers had way to much control when this was happening and wanted a super wide corridor set aside so they could account for every possibility.
To me that is hardly a good use of valuable land, especially when it is sitting in public ownership. So my next thought was how much is that land worth and could do something with it. On the land value, I did a sample of the land values and sizes on a number of houses in the area around the image above. That suggested that on average land value was in the vicinity of $440 per square metre. Many of the driveways for the existing houses have (or could be modified to have) roughly 20m of space between them. So putting this all together, a 20m x 15m section would then be worth roughly $130k. There would be space for hundreds of similar sized properties all along the corridor amounting to tens of millions of dollars of wasted land.
But is that big enough to do anything with, I think so. Many recent developments have properties that are only this size or even smaller. Take these houses near where I live, each of the three highlighted would easily fit within the dimensions mentioned above.
And what the two southern ones look like from the street level, as you can see there is even space for off road car parking.
So all up what am I suggesting, perhaps we need to look at East Coast Rd, and other roads like it. If needed shift the road to one side of the corridor while still leaving enough space for things like a second lane should it ever be needed (like for bus lanes). Then with the remaining land develop it into either town houses or even stand along places like the image above. By changing the road and developing out the land it would help to give more queues to drivers to slow down as well as obviously getting more housed into an existing area helping towards our housing supply problem.