Monday, September 03, 2012

mcdonalds appeal - day 7

One of the Say No to McDonalds Community Meetings
Day 7 and around a month to the day saw the resumption of the McDonalds Tecoma VCAT appeal.

Around 20 community members attended, it's been terrific to have a constant community presence at the tribunal.

Hearing chair, Tribunal Member Geoff Rundell, reminded us of the planned schedule for the next two days, traffic expert evidence for day 7 with acoustic expert evidence for day 8 along with right of replies and discussion of draft conditions.

Member Rundell advised the hearing that he and Member Megan Carew had visited the site at around 3:30 to 4pm on 23 August to look at the school, pre school, traffic and adjacent dwellings.

First expert for the day was traffic expert, Mr John Hunt for Cardno, after presenting his evidence he was cross examined by council, community members and Town Planner Tim.

He presented on many elements of the application. The fact that VicRoads had approved the proposal, that Sandells Road is signalised and provides community with safe traffic movement, that turn in traffic along this section of Burwood Hwy is effectively controlled by signals and give way signage, that his theoretical modelling shows a queue length in Burwood Hwy of 216m (nb: to give you an idea Glenfern Rd is approximately 450m from Sandells Rd), that there'd been no siginficant accidents and said that the evidence presented earlier (by Judy Woolf) on accidents looked at intersections further away that are not related to the subject site (he was talking about Rutherford Rd and Walter St).

He did highlight that he thought a better option could be found for bicycle parking than in the loading dock area. He talked us through how the loading dock would work with trucks driving down the driveway and reversing into the dock. 

He said that 23% of trips to the site would be "generator trips", these are additional trips to the site, 38% are "primary trips", where the site is the destination and 39% are "passing trips", those made whilst just passing, not especially planned.

As part of his evidence he provided modified plans of the loading dock so it conforms with Australian Standards (it didn't up till now) as well as a modified circulation plan (how cars navigate down the driveway and up the drive through) that didn't include using the private land of 1527 Burwood Hwy (the first version did!). He also presented new plans for the disabled car park to give it a grade of 1:33, a ramp up of 1:8 all whilst matching the current slope of the driveway.

Late in the morning cross examination started. Council raised a few issues, particularly around the lack of fully accessible pedestrian access and reinforcing that local planning policies look to improve pedestrian links. Mr Hunt stated that he thought pedestrian access is satisfactory.

Karl Williams was first of the community cross examiners and did a terrific job. Mr Williams asked about the traffic generation data and raised doubts about the reliability of the information given the range of variability. He went on to ask on what basis had Frankston and East Doncaster stores been selected to provide comparitive data. He also asked what relationship Glen Waverley had to Tecoma in terms of traffic generation.

Mr Williams went on to point out the proposal for Tecoma was around 8km away from the nearest McDonalds, unlike metropolitan stores which are, on average, 4kms apart, suggesting that the catchment is likely to be larger and hence the traffic generation too. Mr Hunt indicated that some traffic would be from generated from trips to key tourist destinations like Grants Picnic Ground and Puffing Billy so wouldn't be additional trips on the road network.

At the 30 minute mark Mr Chris Townshend SC (McDonalds legal representative) interjected. Mr Williams continued his cross examination and focussed on the Customer Order Devices, the queue lengths on Burwood Hwy, the traffic modelling methods applied, the parking, the case studies used in evidence for comparitive data, the inadequacy of the disabled car park, the loading dock, bicycle parking and accident records. His cross examination took us up to lunch time where Member Rundell called for a break and with that a caution that we'd had answers about most topics and not pursuing in great depth them again when we resumed after lunch.

After lunch Claire Ferres-Miles commenced her cross examination and did a great job on behalf of the community. Her experience as a traffic engineer came to the fore as she asked many questions on the technical elements of Mr Hunt's evidence.

Ms Ferres-Miles sought evidence on the date of Mr Hunt's site visits and highlighted that they were in school holidays when traffic is significantly modified. She also learned that Mr Hunt had witnessed the queueing in Burwood Hwy once and seen analysis captured by camera. In evidence Mr Hunt stated that Burwood Hwy was 12m wide (nb: width is important in terms of making all the right hand turns work - into BP, into site, into McNicol Rd). Ms Ferres-Miles asked Mr Hunt if he had measured the road width, to which he said his staff had advised him and he wasn't sure of the technique they'd used. Ms Ferres-Miles said that she had measured the road width and it was 11m wide tapering down to 10m wide.

She asked Mr Hunt why he had not included McNicol Rd in his analysis given it it Tecoma's busiest local collector road (carrying around 3,500 vehicles a day). Mr Hunt said it was because the site was directly accessed from Burwood Hwy and Sandells Rd. She further queried this by describing the current conditions that see cars wanting to turn right into McNicol Rd queueing on the chevron lines of Burwood Hwy as there isn't enough capacity in the linemarked turn lane and the potential for that to conflict with right hand turns into the site. Mr Hunt said that was unlikely to occur (although survey data collected by the community would indicate differently).

She went on to ask about the path a 12.5m rigid truck would take to access the loading dock (nb: these are the standard trucks used by McDonalds for deliveries) which would see it cross the centre line (now proposed to have chevron line markings) of Burwood Highway and enter on the wrong side of the driveway, drive past the loading dock and reverse in whilst traversing the east west carriageway easement and avoiding landscaping beside the drive through lane and the 2m drop to the next level.

Mr Hunt agreed that it was difficult to measure traffic variation with one sample. He went on to say he didn't know what the variations are in this area, that some variations are seasonal but in this case there isn't variation around cars using paralled arterial roads as there isn't any.

Ms Ferres Miles asked many questions around the modelling done by Mr Hunt using a software program called SIDRA and highlighted the complexity of the road network in this area where it was revealed that the 6 car parking spaces on Burwood Hwy weren't included (they have an effect on traffic flow) and neither was the BP Service Station as it wasn't part of the immendiate network (even though it is near to opposite the site).

Mr Hunt talked about his modelling using SIDRA, which showed the queues extended to 216m and restated that the development would not impact on the road network with the additional traffic generated there wont be a noticable change. Mr Hunt also confirmed that he had not taken any counts of cyclists or pedestrians as part of his report.

Ms Ferres-Miles pointed out that within a 150m stretch of Burwood Hwy there are 12 access points to which Mr Hunt replied that the road works with abutting land use.

Ms Ferres-Miles went on to talk about intersection analysis and queried Mr Hunt's evidence around the 216m queue length as community surveying had showed queue lengths of 600m to 1.2kms. She also queried the fact that Mr Hunt's analysis had looked independently at each intersection rather than an integrated model. Mr Hunt said it was standard to treat intersections in isolation and SIDRA was about theoretical capacity. On this Ms Ferres-Miles raised queries about inputs used by Mr Hunt to SIDRA in that the turn lane width data was incorrect, the grade of Sandells Rd wasn't included, the speed limit on Sandells Rd was indicated as 60kph, the timing of the traffic light signalling was incorrect, that parking spots weren't included, as all of these inputs have an effect on the output of data on SIDRA.

Mr Hunt confirmed he had not investigated 'rat runs' as part of his report, he also confirmed that he had not included bus route 699 (that runs down Sandells Rd) as part of his report - it was at this point that Mr Townshend SC interjected saying we were spending a lot of time on the road network, not on this particular proposal. Member Rundell asked Ms Ferres-Miles to focus on the proposal.

Ms Ferres Miles queried Mr Hunt on as to why he hadn't selected Ferntree Gully, Boronia or even as mentioned earlier by Mr Hunt, Lilydale or Croydon as suitable examples of traffic generation.  Mr Hunt said he didn't think it appropriate.

She went on to talk about Australian Standards for positioning of the Customer Order Devices in that they should be on a grade of 1:20, Mr Hunt said he wasn't specifically aware of this element of the Standards and said nice if you achieve it but in this case the grade would be 1:10 to 1:12 and that he wasn't concerned about this as people put their foot on the brake as they order.

The issue about pedestrian access was covered and Mr Hunt conceded a safe crossing point on the east/west carriageway easement would be a marginal improvement.

The disabled car park was raised, particular the safety and sight lines. Mr Hunt suggested you would drive into the carparking space and reverse out. When the issue of sight constraints was raised he said it could be improved with a mirror opposite the car park (nb: this would be on the land of the neighbour). Ms Ferres-Miles went on to query the sloped ramp to the disabled car park, highlighting that any person accessing the rear of their car to access mobility aids would be on an uneven slope at a grade of 1:8 sloping downwards to match the driveway. Mr Hunt said the space could be designed acceptably.

Mr Tim Radisich (also known as Town Planner Tim) was next to cross examine Mr Hunt. He queried Mr Hunt's views on the Australian Standards as a design standard, Mr Hunt said it was a guideline and treated as such. He also raised the issue of the disabled carpark and the issues for any driver trying to reverse out of the carpark into a driveway with little vision. Mr Hunt reiterated it was the best space for the disabled park and then went on to say that the other option would be onstreet with negotiation with Council (nb: the width of the Burwood Hwy car parks would never satisfy the provisions for a disabled park).

Mr Hunt told Mr Radisich that he didn't think a delivery truck crossing the centre line of the driveway would unduly cause operational issues. Mr Radisich also highlighted that the truck would also encroach on the disabled car parking space too. He went on to query how the waste trucks would operate on the site given the plans and the indicated location of bins - at this point Mr Townshend interjected again about how this might be going to the use of the site (which is an as of right use) and might go to a condition on permit. Member Rundell reiterated his concern about the very limited time and said that the questioning was not all that helpful to us.

Mr Radisich replied by saying goes to acoustic performance, to which Member Carew said she had some questions on levels and other details on the minutae of the plans but didn't want to spend time with Mr Hunt as they were probably questions for McDonalds to answer.  Mr Townshend said they are going to have to take out the garbage. Member Carew said the loading bay works according to Mr Hunt but I still have questions I want to ask. At that point Mr Radisich highlighted the 2m drop when trucks reverse into the loading bay which is a serious design consideration to which Member Carew responded these are matters for McDonalds not Mr Hunt and with that Mr Hunt left the witness stand at 3:45pm.

Traffic expert, Mr Tim DeYoung from GTA, was the next witness presented by McDonalds. He started his evidence by being critical of the analysis provided by Mr Hunt of Cardno saying it was highly conservative. He also talked about the queue line, the traffic light cycle times, the circulation around the site and reminded the tribunal that the prior supermarket application with over 3000 traffic movements was acceptable to VicRoads.  He also said there was nothing to prevent the intersection of McNicol Rd being signalised and changing Burwood Highway eastbound to two lanes up to Sandells Rd.

At this point Member Carew asked a series of questions of Mr DeYoung. She firstly queried the level diagram presented by the landscape architect which indicates a 500mm drop from the car park level to the fenceline to which Mr DeYoung had to take her question on notice as to whether there'd be some slight levelling of the car parking on site.

Member Carew went on to ask about limiting right hand turns at various points which weren't supported by Mr DeYoung as he thought it best to retain flexibility in the car park/drive through area. Member Carew also asked about a left turn splitter island to encourage only left hand turns out of the site onto Burwood Hwy, the potential to provide speed humps on the exit to Sandells Rd (at the rear of DVD Destination), the 12 spaces indicated for the drive through as to whether that's an average or worst case, the potential to shut down the drive through in the evening - at this point Mr Townshend interjected, saying this was a council suggestion from a traffic engineers which ended up on the list of conditions somehow.

Member Carew also asked about how McDonalds patrons could be prevented from parking in the neighbouring car park at 1527 Burwood Hwy, Mr De Young said that signage, line marking, restricting to 5 minute parking and enforcement by tenants as options. She also asked questions about the loading bay design, the pedestrian movement and the potential to linemark pedestrian space up beside the loading bay to which Mr DeYoung said he wasn't convinced that it was necessary.

Member Carew asked about pedestrians negotiating the rear car park and lanes of traffic to access the rear staircase. Mr DeYoung explained that is was a shared zone, and that there is a school of thought that encourages walking in certain locations and that he doesn't join that school of thought. He didn't believe a pedestrian crossing was needed and safety should be encouraged through signage.

Member Carew asked about the presentation of the loading bay, as it was not the best, and explored if it could be located in an alternate area. She also explored the opportunities to 'flip' the design as the grades are less on the eastern side.

Mr Townshend again interjected offering for Mr DeYoung to access a horizontal section from the architect to assist the tribunal.  Member Carew went on to ask more questions about the location of the CODS and whether they would overlook adjoining properties.

The day came to an end at 4:37pm with tribunal Chair, Member Rundell, advising that Mr DeYoung's evidence would be constrained to a couple of hours tomorrow to allow cross examination of acoustic evidence of Ms Hui, followed by right of replies and permit conditions and with that determined that day 8 of the hearing should commence half an hour earlier at 9:30am.

It was a big day, very intense, but my congratulations to community members who attended and those who cross examined - you were great, I'm sure that level of cross examination was not anticipated by the experts from community members - well done.  

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At 3:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Samantha for the updates during the vcat process. I'm travelling in Europe so unable to attend, but it's been great receiving news.

I hope the final day went well!

At 1:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done on providing such a detailed account. We really appreciate it sam. Cheers trish flanagan

At 11:31 PM, Blogger Jazz27 said...

can't believe vicroads approved the supermarket! thats going to be a hard point to concede, if vicroads approved a supermarket then macdonalds should have no trouble, still, I guess things are different here, pushing it to VCAT definitely has the advantage of getting unprecedented detailed analysis, wether it is seen as superceding the previous vicroads decision however...hmmm... I hope so! traffic is going to be hell! thats just obvious! can't believe it... still, seems Mr Hunts computer data doesn't seem to have a leg to stand on! good work cross examining...keep at em! :D

At 7:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comprehensive reviews of the vcat process Samantha. Must take some time to compile and I have found reading them very enlightening. They have allowed others unable to attend a chance to engage with the process.




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