Get ready Gold Coasters because autumn is coming!
I know, I know, it doesn’t sound as foreboding as ‘winter is coming”, and you won’t see anything as cool as frozen undead, giant fire-breathing dragons or miraculous resurrection.
There will be pain though, and lots of anger and chaos, as the city descends into complete gridlock for the better part of a month.
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Major fears about the Gold Coast’s ability to handle the flood of traffic that the 2018 Commonwealth Games will bring have never been far away from the surface of locals here on the coast.
But like the Grumpkins and Snarks of Westerosi folklore, the obvious shortcomings of the M1 and the potential threat they pose to GC18 are too often viewed with dubious pessimism by those making the decisions.
There was nothing apocryphal though about what happened to the M1 and major Gold Coast arterials on the 15th of last month.
It started off as any normal Wednesday in August would on the Gold Coast, with the usual peak hour traffic and widespread merging ineptness combining to congest the north bound lanes early morning.
Nothing out of the ordinary there.
What was very rare and alarming though was that by 2pm all southbound traffic from Loganholme to Currumbin had suddenly slowed to a crawl.
The cause? A half day public holiday in Brisbane for the Ekka.
No public holiday down here, no big events on the Gold Coast whatsoever.
All it took was a warm winter’s day and some Brisso’s knocking off work early for total southbound (then consequently northbound several hours later as they returned home) gridlock.
Dark wings. Dark words.
It was a Fist of the First Men moment for Games organisers, a first contact for optimistic officials who had remained naïve to the danger of the threat.
No one can now claim ‘I didn’t know it would be this bad’.
Two weeks ago an economic modelling report from Griffith University predicted a 22% increase in traffic during the Games.
It is a figure I’d argue is too low but even if it’s remotely accurate the Games is in all sorts of trouble.
The M1 is barely able to handle local accident-free traffic and we all got a foreboding firsthand look last month at what happens when half of Brisbane empties for just half a day.
What happens when tens of thousands of domestic tourists and hundreds of thousands of international tourists join Brisbane and localised traffic on Gold Coast roads?
The current ‘plan’ remains to section off lanes for Games-only traffic and cross lots of fingers that everyone will know how bad the roads will be and all take public transport.
Far from being a ‘Dragon Glass’ solution, this idea will only exponentially increase congestion.
Autumn is coming, and the Prince That Was Promised can’t save us – he will be stuck in traffic with everyone else.