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Figures reveal dramatic increase in traffic on one of the region's most congested roads

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Stark figures have confirmed what long-time Caloundra locals already know from experience — traffic is ballooning on one of the region’s most congested roads.

More than 32,000 cars per day are now using Caloundra Road which has become a traffic nightmare at peak times, especially at the two big roundabouts.

That equates to 10,741 more cars per day driving the busy east-west thoroughfare than there were in the year 2000.

The jump in daily traffic has been even more intense in the past year, rising at more than double the rate of previous years.

Between 2020 and 2021, there was a sudden jump of 1170 extra daily vehicles on the road.

The roundabout at Caloundra Road and Nicklin Way. Photo: Patrick Woods

But for decades before that, the year-on-year daily increase was between 380 and 570 cars per year.

Traffic jams that once were mostly the domain of big cities have now become daily occurances in what used to be a quiet beach town.

The telling figures were provided to Sunshine Coast News on request and help explain why Caloundra Road often turns into a frustrating carpark.

The annual average daily traffic (AADT) for Caloundra Road between the Nicklin Way intersection and the Kawana Way Link Road and Bells Creek Arterial Road intersection are:

2021: 32099 (AADT); 15922 (Eastbound); 16177 (Westbound)
2020: 30929 (AADT); 15388 (Eastbound); 15541 (Westbound)
2010: 27126 (AADT); 13853 (Eastbound); 13273 (Westbound)
2000: 21358 (AADT); 10658 (Eastbound); 10700 (Westbound)

Caloundra resident Kerrin Gott, who lives in Caloundra and runs a mechanic business in Landsborough, has to face the frustration twice a day, Monday to Friday.

Ms Gott said the worst times were between 7.15am – 9.15am and 3.45pm to 5.45pm when cars were banked up at the Aura roundabout in all directions.

The trip takes her 25 minutes to half an hour instead of a zippy 15 minutes because of the slow crawl through the roundabout.

“It’s really bad. I don’t know how they’re going to fix that or why they didn’t have the foresight to see what was going to happen there.”

The roundabout at Caloundra Road and Nicklin Way. Photo: Patrick Woods

In one example, one of her staff members was sent from Landsborough to Caloundra for a quick job which ended up taking 2.5 hours because of the traffic.

The mechanic was caught on the Kawana Way Link Road heading south to the Aura roundabout, and traffic was banked all the way back to Woodlands Boulevard.

To help reduce the traffic load and release bottlenecks, the State Government has a number of projects in the pipeline, particularly at the two main roundabouts.

The proposed Caloundra Transport Corridor Upgrade (CTCU), creating a new four-lane road from Nicklin Way to the CBD, would divert some westbound traffic from the Nicklin Way roundabout.

Planning is also underway to improve the Aura roundabout intersection near the racecourse where Caloundra Road meets Bells Creek Aterial Road and the Kawana Way Link Road.

This roundabout is the site of heavy congestion in all directions, with traffic converging from the Bruce Highway, Aura, westbound town traffic and cars arriving from Kawana Way Link Road.

Options being considered for this choke point include traffic lights.

A new Kawana Motorway, with four lanes, is also earmarked to run parallel to, and west of, Kawana Way, between Meridan Plains and Parrearra.

But all of these projects remain in the planning phases.

In the meantime, drivers are contending with the frustration of worsening city traffic as more people move to the region.

The Caloundra region is expected to wear the burden of the Sunshine Coast’s growing population, with six new residents moving to Caloundra for every one that moves north of the Maroochy River.

The Sunshine Coast’s population is expected to increase by some 120,000 in the next 20 years.

Caloundra Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Brady Sullivan said the roads projects being worked on would make some difference but it was also time to think outside the square.

Mr Sullivan said rather than just building new roads and more lanes, there should also be more effort towards “getting people out of cars”.

This meant creating a city with safe and user-friendly paths and cycleways that encouraged people to ride, scooter or walk instead of drive.

He used the example of Aura which had been designed with that in mind and had one of the highest rates of children cycling to school.

“How do we invest in infrastructure that gets people out of cars and a more active way of getting around, and safely,” said Mr Sullivan.

“It’s a great opportunity for Caloundra to have lower-cost infrastructure projects in addition to roads projects to make it a more liveable region, so people will want to live in a place like that.

“It can be simple things like walking and riding infrastructure around schools.

“The aspiration for Caloundra should be an attractive place that’s walkable and safe.”

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