11 February 2021

ACT's first 'smart road' to help Parkway traffic keep flowing

| Ian Bushnell
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Tuggeranong Parkway

A stretch of the Tuggeranong Parkway will be part of Canberra’s first ‘smart road’. Photo: File.

One of Canberra’s most infamous thoroughfares will be the ACT’s first ”smart road” in a bid to reduce the number of crashes and the resulting gridlock.

The Tuggeranong Parkway between the Glenloch Interchange and the Cotter Road is notorious for peak-hour bottlenecks and collisions that can bring the major arterial road to a standstill, and choke other routes when traffic is diverted.

Painted chevrons on the road were introduced in 2019 in a bid to stop tail-gating and help drivers keep a reasonable distance between vehicles, but now the ACT Government plans to install a variable speed limit system like Victoria’s to manage traffic congestion, as well as reduce the likelihood of rear-end crashes along both carriageways, particularly northbound.

But the system, for now, won’t include the pinch points south of the Interchange where many accidents occur, covering the area from Lady Denman Drive (southbound) and Forest Drive (northbound) to the Cotter Road ramps.

If this project is successful, the system may be extended, especially with planned investigations into making Parkes Way safer.

An Intelligent Transport System tool will use traffic detection and other technologies to determine and display speed limits appropriate for road and weather conditions and traffic volumes.

This will involve electronic Variable Message Signs (VMS), Integrated Speed and Lane Use Signs and CCTV cameras, some mounted on gantries.

According to tender documents for the $1.5 to $1.7 million project, the smart system, which will base its decisions on a range of data it will continually collect, will be monitored and controlled remotely by TCCS’s traffic management centre.

The current speed limit for that stretch of the Parkway is 100km/h, but the new system could reduce speeds by 20 to 30km/h depending on the conditions or as low as 40 km/h if, for example, there is an accident.

The system will also provide estimated travel times and delays, detect accidents in real-time and alert motorists to trouble ahead and close lanes.

The government expects to sign a contract in the next couple of months, with work underway from April to July followed by testing and commissioning.

The system should be operating by the end of the year.

Tuggeranong Parkway carries about 35,000 vehicles per day, with about 3,500 to 4,000 vehicles in peak hour traffic.

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Adding an extra lane to each direction to cope with the extra traffic due to a growing city would be more productive.

Doing that would cost money in the name of road safety and governments are only interested in road safety if there is a dollar to be made.

Ever growing road sizes (i.e. in terms of lane) don’t necessarily create any productivity gains. Because eventually it just leads to more traffic and bigger traffic jams as a result. We can’t forever just be building more roads and making them bigger.

The impact of COVID-19 in breaking down barriers to remote working in many industries should hopefully have far greater long term positive impacts on productivity then making bigger roads ever will.

It’s not the Canberra I loved; that one with great infrastructure and wide, uncrowded highways. ‘Growth’, yes, who needed it?

You have obviously contributed to said growth by in the first place. A small point a lot of those who complain about growth often overlook. Or the type who complain about loosing land for housing but the loss of land for their house 40 years ago was ok

I’ve seen this work in the UK, and it works amazingly well. Why has it taken us so long?

Only need to look at the comments here to see why it’s taken so long.

Vast majority of people only think about themselves.

More stupidity from an idealogical & PC government that knows nothing about road safety. Maybe some parkway crashes could be caused by defective vehicles which are allowed to be continually re-registered despite severe problems with brakes & steering and no inspections. Since 2009 I have found , on eight occasions, disc brake pads with all friction material gone in the middle of intersectios on the road, and grinding on a solid steel backing with destroyed brake discs. As an experienced mechanic of 30 years I can tell you that Canberrans neglect cars far more than elsewhere , they have no interest in mechanics generally and only acknowledge vehicle problems after they have that inevitable crash. Upper middle class ignorance at it’s finest. Since
next to nobody in this anti car city cares about their vehicles and have 1000 times more interest in phones than cars and driving how can we have smart drivers on the road? Allowing disinterested people to drive cars in to the ground is NOT ACCEPTABLE ,and mandated inspections won’t happen because the government doesn’t care about road safety only revenue and inspections would require many public servants to take time off. EVERYBODY should stop paying fines, stop allowing themselves to be bullied by the government for money , and start demanding on a large scale that something is done about people who don’t have an aptitude to own a vehicle ,since it is a lethal weapon in the hands of an incompetent/ disinterested driver

a bit of a rant mickos. fully of meaningless phrases – like “anti car city’, idealogical & PC government, and ‘upper middle class ignorance’ that just reveal you have an almighty chip on your shoulder about something.

do you actually have any solid evidence to back up anything you’ere saying?

Yes I have solid evidence at my workshop. Worn out brakes only fall out when worn way beyond limits. Stop defending dumbarses that should not own cars and a ‘ government’ that’ puts revenue before road safety .You need to learn the Automotive field and you should stick to the bus.

And let me guess, you want annual inspections to be a requirement and are happy to do them at your workshop?
Obvious vested interest is obvious.

Richard Scherer5:28 pm 14 Feb 21

Drivers need to learn to merge properly! A broken whlte line means give way. An electronic stop/give way sign for traffic coming off Hindmarsh Drive and Cotter Road would cost little.

Finally Relented7:11 am 13 Feb 21

Wish they would get rid of those chevrons. The idea of helping keep a certain distance from the car in front is fine. But if you’ve driven there in a heavy downpour they make seeing the lanes nearly impossible. Even at night they are glarey. And then there’s the idiots who couldn’t care less about safe distances and pull in front of you.

I like the idea of a variable speed limit. As the traffic flows are separated and the access limited we could have 110kph at times of low traffic density; or heaven forbid, we could follow the German autobahn model and go even higher. That way reducing the limit down to 100 or slower depending on density would make sense.

What will have it deemed “Successful” will be if everybody hates it, it increases travel time, and raises revenue in fines. Actual road safety is not at all on the agenda for the Labor-Greens coalition.

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