17 May 2024

12 years after it was first floated, government says Athllon Drive duplication 'remains on track'

| James Coleman
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sign on side of Athllon Drive

These signs were installed in March 2020. Photo: Google Maps.

It all began in 2012 AD, when then opposition leader Zed Seselja popped a sweetener into the mix ahead of the ACT election. He would champion the duplication of Athllon Drive, and ease the weekday choke point between Woden and Tuggeranong.

He ended up losing to ACT Labor’s Katy Gallagher, but four years later her party also judged it a good idea and came to the 2016 election with a $141 million promise to duplicate Athllon Drive between Sulwood and Drakeford drives (and upgrade Gundaroo Drive in Gungahlin).

Another four years came and went, until mere months out from the 2020 election the ACT Government released the first “concept designs” and an estimated price tag of $75 million for the project.

READ ALSO ‘Common sense prevailed’: Gundaroo Drive speed limit raised after 60 km/h trial

This covered the three kilometres of single carriageway between Shea Street and Melrose Drive in Phillip and the section between Sulwood Drive and Drakeford Drive in Kambah.

Then Transport Canberra and City Services (TCCS) minister Chris Steel said it would cut “at least two minutes off travel times for morning commuters on the R4 and R5, making our public transport system more efficient and reliable”.

He added that more than 14,000 vehicles travel on Athllon Drive per day, including nearly 2000 per hour in the peak periods.

The NRMA agreed it was a worthy project.

Chris Steel with Dave Smith

Former ACT Transport Canberra and City Services minister Chris Steel estimated the duplication would cut public transport travel times by two minutes. Photo: ACT Government.

To make it all official, signs were installed along the road in March 2020 that read: “We are duplicating this road”.

In the 2022-2023 budget, the Federal Government tipped in $46.7 million. By then, a TCCS spokesperson said the concept designs had been “finalised” and “we will be commencing a detailed design for the project later this year”, expected to take around 18 months.

In November, it reached the next stage with the release of a tender.

Mr Steel added: “We remain committed to delivering the duplication of Athllon Drive. The project supports Canberra’s integrated transport network in meeting the needs of future population growth and supporting a sustainable ACT for all Canberrans”.

Athllon Drive is already dual-carriageway in parts, including here, next to Lake Tuggearnong. Photo: Google Maps.

The upgrade included additional bus lanes and bus stops and “active travel and intersection improvements” to support the new Woden bus depot. Then there’s the fact light rail is also destined to come down this route at some point.

But Mr Selselja, an ACT senator by then, was less than impressed.

“The ACT Labor-Greens consistently delay and fail to deliver on promises to the people of Tuggeranong in favour of Barr’s pet projects and, quite frankly, Tuggeranong residents are tired of these false promises,” he said.

Now, well into 2024 and with an ACT election looming, we have another update – the government has revealed “preliminary designs“.

READ ALSO Long-promised upgrades to major Tuggeranong roads underway

The community has the opportunity to “view and discuss” these designs during two information sessions on 20 May at the Tuggeranong Library and 25 May at Wanniassa Shops, ahead of planning and environmental approval.

By now, it’s more than a road widening.

There’ll be a new shared path running under a new bridge on Sulwood Drive (along with other “improvements” to the C4 cycle path), upgrades to other bridges along the way, part-time traffic lights on the Sulwood Drive roundabout, new traffic lights at the Langdon Avenue, Atkins Street, Vosper Street and Fincham Crescent intersections, and “water-quality measures” to reduce pollution from water run-off into Lake Tuggeranong.

Preliminary designs for Athllon Drive duplication, 2024. Image: ACT Government.

In a statement to Region, TCCS minister Tara Cheyne said the project “remains on track”.

“Construction timing will be confirmed with the successful construction tenderer following the completion of detailed design.”

An ACT Government spokesperson added there were a “number of steps before major construction can commence, including feasibility studies, concept, preliminary and final design, and various stages of procurement”.

“We have been moving through these steps as quickly as possible.”

Time will tell.

Visit the ACT Government website for more information.

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I hope the traffic lights will have priority bus lanes and signals.

Even if the ACT government can stick with their plan for one section of light rail every decade, it will be forty years until light rail comes to Tuggeranong.

It doesn’t make sense an underpass where there is no traffic but to have one where they could remove a set of lights.

Didn’t take them any time to install the point to point camera and rip it out. Keen to take our money but not spend it on Tuggeranong.

Four new sets of traffic lights should really speed things up.

I want them to release which side of the road the additional land is going to be carved from – they have been deliberately unclear about it.

Also where the planning is for future light rail? It was supposed to run along this corridor.

It is good to see an underpass planned for the shared path at Sulwood Drive. It will be even nicer to see it built. Given how long the shared path along Sulwood Drive has taken to start construction, I’ll be expecting this underpass around the same time that the light rail gets here

Some comets on their celestial orbits are more frequent than this government’s actions

Gregg Heldon8:23 am 19 May 24

Shouldn’t surprise anyone living here in Tuggeranong that, in an election year, a few roads are paved, a playground or two are upgraded, some footpaths are repaired or upgraded and…….. that’s it, nothing else is done.
Tuggeranong residents are treated with disdain. We are neglected. If Athllon Drive is to actually be duplicated under this current Government, tarmac won’t be poured until about 6 months before the next election.
But it’s just not Tuggeranong. Infrastructure projects take way too long here in Canberra. Why? Replacing Woden bus depot has taken about 7 years, and it still not done. Woden has also been without a CIT campus for at least 5 years, and it’s still not done.
It’s not good enough.

Great solution, more traffic lights

Keyboard Warrior9:38 pm 18 May 24

I’m done with this Greens controlled – Labor government!
They have had decades to create their vision of a perfect world here, and have failed.
Last election they put these signs up, Labor has done little to nothing for those on the South side of the lake, I don’t care who wins the next election, just as long as it’s not Labor.

Amazes me how this gumment can upgrade Dudley St in Yarralumla/Deakin with a roundabout and an offshoot that leads into an embankment and stops and plants trees there but after all this time is still unable to duplicate Athllon drive and now are doing another feasibility study. Just build the bloody thing.

If there are going to be more traffic lights on this section of road, why don’t they remove the pedestrian lights and construct an accessible pedestrian BRIDGE to service the bus stops?!
I could never understand why they didn’t do this in the first place taking into account that the road would be duplicated in the future and designing it appropriately!
Also, with more traffic lights, will the buses actually save time, as Mr. Steele alluded to, or not?

Andrew Denny4:38 pm 18 May 24

I was not a fan of Mr Seselja’s brand of politics, but his point remains very valid. After living in Tuggeranong since 1993, I am reasonably confident that when asked, our Chief Minister’s response is “Tuggera-what?. Wear the fox hat?”

Never ceases to amaze me how thick the Local government think we southsiders are.
“Ooh, we have an election on the horizon, let’s re-announce movement on stalled projects in the south so they think we haven’t forgotten about them.
Then they will vote our way!”

Canberra is a mess politically.
Neither side seems capable of running this city responsibly.
Lucky we are supposedly all earning so much we can afford the constant increase in money grabbing though our rates and taxes this government has to enforce due its to mismanagement of funds.


You neglect to mention we have plans of upgrading intersections close to Woden in areas flagged for duplication. If they are doing intersections upgrades surely it’s more cost effective to include the road fixing at the same time.

However those in charge haven’t been able to realise this. The roads on Athllon and intersections can’t handle bus traffic from the depot. Surely that’s a sign they should be duplicated instead we have half measures.

The duplication of Athllon was to fix congestion. The solution given is to include as many traffic lights as possible so it’s not possible to synchronise them both ways.

The latest Northside project announced at the same time is already finished. Projects in the south side take twice the time and there are sparsely any. They need to take a long time to hide the fact that no infrastructure is planned for the south.
Yet they are telling us our homes are too big we should subdivide. What’s the point when there won’t be any infrastructure to back it up.

Hate to burst your bubble, but the Gundaroo Drive Duplication still hasn’t been finished. That’s the other thing with these projects, once they get started they seem to take ages to get done

Announced in 2016 stage one complete in 2018.

Doing up Athllon drive was in the Woden masterplan from about 2014/2015. Not a sod has turned since.

Athllon hasn’t even completed a final design in 8 years or 12 years if you count the libs announcement.
If the libs annouced it in 2012 you can be sure that Labor considered it at least back then.

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