11 September 2022

City traffic disruptions loom as light-rail work gets underway

| Ian Bushnell
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Light rail London circuit

Work to raise London Circuit to accommodate light rail to Commonwealth Park is getting underway, meaning disruptions for drivers. Photo: ACT Government.

Canberrans should prepare for major disruptions to traffic and parking in the city over coming weeks as work begins on infrastructure projects related to the raising of London Circuit and the extension of light rail to Commonwealth Park.

Unfortunately, the disruptions come at the same time as Floriade in Commonwealth Park and visitors are urged to check the festival website for parking and access information.

Transport Canberra and City Services says the first of these will start on Friday, 16 September, when for five consecutive weekends there will be no westbound access from Parkes Way into Coranderrk Street.

This is to do with the Coranderrk Street and Parkes Way intersection upgrade, in which traffic lights are being installed to control the westbound right turn from Parkes Way into Coranderrk Street and improve traffic flow during the upcoming construction projects.

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This means vehicles will be unable to turn right at the roundabout intersection. Detour signs will be in place directing vehicles to Edinburgh Avenue.

Weekend closures up to and including Monday, 24 October, are expected to begin, weather permitting, from midnight each Friday and remain closed until 6am on the following Monday.

Locating the site compound for this project in the back south-west corner of the car park opposite CIT Reid will temporarily remove about 30 spaces from the 690-space car park, to be reinstated before the end of the year as the project ends.

The Government will also install temporary traffic lights on the northern side of Vernon Circle to allow vehicles to turn right safely to access Constitution Avenue and London Circuit.

TCCS says the eight to 12-week project will further support the traffic movements of buses and other vehicles during construction of upcoming infrastructure projects.

At the same time, it will build a permanent new footpath and pedestrian signals between Constitution Avenue and Edinburgh Avenue to provide walkers and cyclists with greater access around the city.

Parking across the city will also be affected, with four ACT Government car parks to be used as site compounds for the project to raise London Circuit.

The four car parks will have areas fenced off so they can be used for construction activities and for site offices, storage, deliveries, amenities as well as machinery and worker parking.

These are:

  • Surface City Hill car park, corner of Constitution Avenue and London Circuit
  • Surface car park at 41 Marcus Clarke Street
  • Acton waterfront surface car park
  • Surface car park at the corner of London Circuit and Edinburgh Avenue.

Parking spaces will be removed as site compounds and worksites are established progressively.

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The main site office compound for the London Circuit project in the City Hill car park is expected to be set up at the end of September.

Parking spaces at the remaining three car parks will be removed or reduced later in 2022. Further information will be provided ahead of these closures.

Another city project unrelated to light rail will also affect traffic parking.

The Verity and Odgers lanes upgrades will deliver more outdoor dining, lighting, heritage tree protection, new paving, new landscaping and stormwater upgrades.

Water mains along London Circuit must be relocated and new stormwater pipes built, requiring two consecutive partial weekend closures of London Circuit on the weekends of 8-9 and 15-16 October, weather permitting.

The site compound is in the Hobart Place car park on the corner of London Circuit, temporarily removing 10 spaces from the 110-space car park.

These are expected to be reinstated in early 2023 at the completion of the project.

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How stupid is it to do this when Floriade begins? Could the timing be any worse? Just when people come from all over Australia to check out Canberra. When the place is full of people who are unfamiliar with this city and its atrocious public transport. When people are here spending their money on accommodation, restaurants and other Canberra businessses. This is a lesson in how to deter them from enjoying their visit and getting around with ease.

The advantage to those of us who live here, is that it will put people off from moving here. The disadvantage is that our friends and family who live elsewhere won’t want to visit. One assumes this is a bad thing but for some, it may be a good thing.

HiddenDragon9:10 pm 12 Sep 22

The years of disruption ahead might be worth it if this was about delivering a public transport system which large numbers of people would use by real choice as an alternative to private vehicles – and not just in the Monday to Friday peak commuting periods.

Instead of that, the consuming costs of light rail, which the ACT government is clearly struggling with (hence the recent admission that anything resembling a network will take decades), means that the complementary bus services and public parking facilities (near light rail stops or termini) – which would be required to make for a truly attractive light rail system – will not be there.

Private vehicle usage will thus continue largely unabated (or grow further), and the blatantly obvious response of further squeezing parking space numbers (to force light rail usage and to chase higher revenue from alternative uses of the land) will simply mean that the affected town centre(s) will increasingly be avoided by anyone who has a choice.

This will not end well.

Well isn’t this going to be fun….

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