21 December 2022

Belconnen road hazard births mystery Christmas tree, complete with lights and presents

| James Coleman
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Road hazard dressed for Christmas on Tillyard Drive, Flynn. Photo: James Coleman.

It started with a small tree. Then there was tinsel. Now there are LED lights, decorations and even wrapped presents.

A ruptured and protruding patch of tarmac on Tillyard Drive in Flynn has become the talk of the town after mysteriously turning into a fully fledged Christmas tree. And even nearby residents aren’t sure who the mysterious elves might be.

“It just turned up a couple of weeks ago,” one told Region.

“I haven’t seen anyone actually add to it – something new just seems to turn up the next day. I’m assuming it must be someone local who either walks or drives past it.”

“I know it’s dangerous, and I don’t know why they haven’t fixed it,” says another.

“I know nothing apart from driving past it every day,” says the owner of Liquor Legends at Tillyard Shops.

“I think it’s a lovely idea. It’ll just be some random person who drives past it every day.”

READ ALSO Icon Water seeks price rise, citing inflation and infrastructure investment

The decorated pine off-cut – stuck into a chunk of clay next to the main road’s shoulder – has been dubbed a “portal to Santa’s workshop” on the Canberra Notice Board Group on Facebook, with others suggesting a carol vigil will be held at the site on 23 December.

It’s the reaction of a community blighted by crumbling roads for months and they’ve clearly tried to make the best of a bad situation. It’s certainly not the first time for this particular pothole.

The ACT Government initially repaired the road out the front of 138 Tillyard Drive late last month, but within a matter of weeks, they were alerted the damage was back. A follow-up inspection uncovered a deeper problem.

“Excavation of the road pavement revealed the pavement beneath the surface was saturated, indicating a possible drainage issue or leaking water main,” a spokesperson said.

Roads ACT is now working with Icon Water to get to the bottom of it. In the meantime, a temporary ‘Hazard Ahead’ sign and orange traffic cone has been installed to warn motorists of the impending danger (in case they miss the Christmas lights).

“Roads ACT will continue to monitor the location and will make further temporary repairs where necessary until the longer-term repair can be completed in the new year,” the spokesperson said.

“We ask community members not to put items in potholes as they can increase the safety risk to motorists.”

This month, the ACT Government also announced a “significant increase” to road maintenance funding to the tune of $153 million over the next four years.

The enlarged maintenance program takes tips from the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB), with a goal of extending the life of Canberra’s roads by 20 years. Think more resealing work – or up to 150 per cent more asphalting.

“This long-term program will see smoother, more resilient roads that result in safer travel and better drivability, meaning Canberra drivers will save on fuel and vehicle maintenance,” the spokesperson said.

READ ALSO Road maintenance funding to increase to $153 million under new ‘strategic’ program

So far, sections of Parkes Way, Glenloch Interchange and Caswell Drive have been resurfaced as part of the program. Other arterial roads on the to-do list include Belconnen Way, Hindmarsh Drive, Gungahlin Drive, Drakeford Drive and the Tuggeranong Parkway.

In the shorter term, crews will put their effort into heavily patching a variety of roads across Canberra over the next six months, including William Hovell Drive, Isabella Drive and Melrose Drive, as well as Antill Street and Namatjira Drive for drainage works.

As for damage like that on Tillyard Drive, more labour-intensive “pavement rehabilitation” is required. In short, the ground beneath the road has to be removed, any damaged drainage infrastructure repaired, and then the hole filled in again and the pavement replaced.

The Great Wall of China and the pothole on Jabanungga Avenue – only one is visible from space. Photo: James Coleman.

This kind of work is also underway on the monster tarmac explosions on Jabanungga Avenue and Tarra Place in Ngunnawal and was recently completed on Well Station Drive in Harrison. Design work will also shortly commence for pavement rehabilitation of David Walsh Avenue in Forde and Isabella Drive in Macarthur.

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I looked at the photo and thought the local council had fixed it. I had a spare train and a small circular track I was going to put around it. Ah well.

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