16 May 2024

'Common sense prevailed': Gundaroo Drive speed limit raised after 60 km/h trial

| James Coleman
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roundabout from the air

The section of Gundaroo Drive between Chuculba Crescent and Baldwin Drive, May 2024. Photo: ACT Government.

The ACT Government has made a rare U-turn on the speed limit along a major road between Belconnen and Gungahlin.

We might be used to the limits dropping whenever roadworks come along and never returning from whence they came in the name of ‘Safe Systems’ policy, but not so for Gundaroo Drive.

Sections have been limited to 60 km/h for years now – much to the chagrin of motorists – but they’ve started a gradual return to 80.

The local government is upgrading the road between Ginninderra Drive and the Barton Highway to dual-carriageway in a duplication project co-funded by the ACT and Commonwealth, six years after the first designs were released.

It will also come with 6.4 kilometres of new on-road cycle lanes, new bridges over Ginninderra Creek, traffic lights at the Dumas Street and Owen Dixon Drive intersections, and widening of the existing roundabouts at Chuculba Crescent and Baldwin Drive.

Construction started in January 2021 on the first package of works – the sections between the Barton Highway and Chuculba Crescent and Baldwin Drive and Ginninderra Drive. These were completed in June 2023.

Work began in the middle section between Chuculba Crescent and Baldwin Drive in March 2022 and is expected to finish later this year.

The government says it has been trialling a 60 km/h speed limit along Gundaroo Drive from the Barton Highway to Ginninderra Drive – down from 80 km/h – and has been “monitoring the speed limit reduction for its long-term suitability”.

This week, ACT City Services minister Tara Cheyne announced the results.

“I know plenty of you have been querying what it’s achieving and whether it’s necessary,” she posted to her official Facebook page on Monday.

“We’ve now determined the completed sections meet the safe design limit of 80 km/h that exists elsewhere on Gundaroo Drive, north of Barton Highway, so that is the limit that will be restored.”

The original 80 km/h limit will be “rolled out” along the entire corridor as the road and bridge works are completed.

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Locals welcomed the news, many of whom said motorists had been driving along the road as if it were 80 km/h already.

“Thank goodness common sense prevailed,” one commented.

“Sense restored, thanks. Technically, the only truly safe speed is zero so we need a reasonable balance,” another wrote.

The duplication project also employs a special asphalt called ‘Thin Open Graded Asphalt Surfacing’ (TOGAS), designed to minimise noise.

“Once the project is completed and the speed limit is reinstated across the entire corridor, we will undertake noise monitoring to determine if additional noise mitigation measures need to be implemented,” Minister Cheyne said.

creek

Ginninderra Creek winds its way over the NSW border down through Belconnen into Lake Ginninderra. Photo: ACT Government.

“Significantly higher than average rainfall over the summer” has flooded the creek and delayed the roadworks between Chuculba Crescent and Baldwin Drive.

However, a new left-turn lane from Chuculba Crescent onto Gundaroo Drive will open “shortly”, as well as two underpasses between Chuculba Crescent and Owen Dixon Drive and a section of southbound shared path.

“Currently, we expect the opening of four lanes in this section and switching on of the traffic lights at the Owen Dixon Drive intersection later this year (weather permitting),” the government said in an update.

Visit the ACT City Services website for more information.

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The design of the road is the issue here. The majority of motorists are sensible people and will choose a speed that feels right based on the road conditions. If a roadway looks and feels safe for 90 km/h, then regardless of the limit, motorists will travel at 90 km/h (give or take), unless they are glued to their speedo. The ACT’s urban speed limits are amongst the fastest (most dangerous) in the developed world and need to come down. Building roads that encourage high speed but signposting them with low speed limits is guaranteed to fail. Source: NJB is a good place to start; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRbnBc-97Ps

@Alex Turini
Sorry, when I read: “The majority of motorists are sensible people …”, I stopped reading your comment.

Andrew Cooke1:32 pm 17 May 24

I mean hooray and all that, the road is clearly designed for an 80km/h speed limit. However it’s what, 3km long? The amount of time saved, if you could travel the whole length without a traffic light and drove irresponsibly fast through the roundabouts would be about 45 seconds. Not really worth all the hullabullo now is it?

It’s not ‘hullabullo’ at all! The original road was 80 km/hr, and after all the work making it better it should have remained an 80 km/hr road. The bulldust from Cheyne ““We’ve now determined the completed sections meet the safe design limit of 80 km/h that exists elsewhere on Gundaroo Drive” is amazing, especially as the ACT Government did the design in the first place, so they know what it was designed for! Do they think we’re daft or something?

Why are they building an on-road cycle lane? Here is a perfect opportunity to make a segregated lane and it is deliberately ignored. On-road lanes are seldom swept and just get covered in debris, forcing cyclists closer to the cars, and making it impossible to maintain the 1.5m distance. Typical bad planning from our useless government.

Incidental Tourist11:45 am 17 May 24

Can they reverse the speed limit along Northbourne avenue from 40 to 60 in Civic as well? Apart from the revenue raiser speed cameras, the changing traffic conditions makes traffic contested and unsafe. Perhaps someone can make it election commitment?

Northbourne avenue is in the middle of the city. There are a heap of pedestrians. If you insist on driving into the city, it is not unreasonable to expect you to slow to 40. If you are just going through, there are other more appropriate routes.

Rollersk8r8811:01 am 17 May 24

Living in McKellar we use the road daily and had no idea it was a trial! Seemed they were just keeping it 60 until the whole stretch is finished. It’s been 3 very long years to get this far – and very disappointed to read it may still change due to noise. It was always 80! The 60 speed limit was out of whack with just about every other nearby main road. Ginninderra Drive at one end is 80, Barton Highway at the other end is 80 (and should still be 100 in parts), nearby Haydon Drive is 80 with several intersections, school/uni etc – and even the much thinner/older Eastern Valley Way is mostly 70…

I found it interesting that the bus drivers I sqw all did 80 Km/hr when the signs said 60. Shows how much they respect the ACT Government.

Sensible to raise the speed limit, but on-road cycle lanes in an 80 zone isn’t great, especially if it is a new work. They should really be a separated cycle path. If there is one already then fine, I guess, for those Lycra clad cyclists who insist on using the road even when there is a good alternative.

Rollersk8r8810:49 am 17 May 24

Cyclists regularly used it back when it was a single lane 80kmh road. As a casual cyclist myself I can name several Canberra roads it makes no sense to ride on – and this was top of the list.

After driving though the city after hours and getting every single traffic light, is this done on purpose. Are they trying to slow the flow of traffic so we all hop on a bicycle?

The current plan is to replace all the roundabouts with traffic lights and have cameras everywhere to ensure we are all sufficiently slowed down enought but not enough there are obvious traffic jams.

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