For the 6000 commuters who traverse Coppins Crossing every day, it’s best described as a “pain”.
Not only is the road not built to manage that volume of traffic, but locals claim the signage doesn’t identify whether the road is open or closed early enough, meaning drivers often have to attempt dangerous u-turns when they realise it’s shut.
Drivers are then faced with an extra 10 to 15 minutes on their journey because they have to “go around the other way”, the operator of the website Is Coppins Crossing Open explained.
“As well as the signage issue, there’s the fact that closures often seem pretty arbitrary and lengthy and seem to drag on even after floodwaters have gone down,” Eric* explained.
He said it often resulted in people simply opting for another route, which doesn’t help traffic volumes leaving the Molonglo Valley at peak hour.
The issue of the road came to the attention of Member for Murrumbidgee Giulia Jones, who asked the Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel in the Legislative Assembly last year about what the government will do to upgrade and improve existing signage.
Mr Steel’s response, provided in a question on notice, said additional signage to the tune of $2000 had already been installed last month at “key locations” including Cotter Road, John Gorton Drive intersection with Holborow Avenue and Uriarra Road Intersection with Coaldrake Avenue.
The purpose of the signage, his response read, was “to provide advanced notification to motorists of road closures on Coppins Crossing”.
“There are no plans to automate the existing signage,” he said.
But for Eric, and many other Molonglo locals, the sum of $2000 is “absolutely inadequate”.
Eric said the new signage at the intersection of John Gorton Drive with Holborow Avenue is “really useful” when leaving Denman Prospect. However, there’s a catch.
“Traffic data shows that even when the road is closed, there are hundreds of people who drive past and miss the flip-down signs anyway,” he explained.
“So what I am calling for is those illuminated signs – like the ones we saw all around the place in COVID-19 – so they are bright and flashy and you can’t miss them.”
Mrs Jones had also asked Mr Steel if the government planned to provide a form of real-time alert to drivers, such as via the Internet or an app.
Mr Steel said this information is publicly available on the City Services webpage.
Eric is also concerned about wider issues surrounding Coppins Crossing.
“The current road is falling apart in some places,” he explained. While he saw some resealing work underway on the northern approach to the bridge, he was worried about the state of the deck of the bridge.
“There have been concrete barriers in place for 18 months since a major flood washed away some of the metal railings,” Eric noted.
A new four-lane bridge funded by the Commonwealth and ACT Government, which will span 227.5 metres over the river is expected to be completed and open to traffic by the end of 2025. It will be built above the level of a one-in-a-hundred-year flood in the Molonglo River.
The government said that when completed, the new arterial road and bridge crossing will support public transport, active travel (on-road cycle lanes and off-road shared paths) and, eventually, a future light rail route.
A tender for detailed design and construction is on track to be released later this month.
But Eric is worried the bridge completion is too far away to wait for without demanding interim action.
*Name has been changed at the request of the site operator who wished to remain anonymous.