10 March 2022

Commuters call for substantial investment in Coppins Crossing signage

| Lottie Twyford
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Coppins Crossing

Coppins Crossing closed after a flood in 2020. Photo: John Mungoven.

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.

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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.

"The ACT is in lockdown" road sign

Eric would like to see better signage installed – like the above. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

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.

An artists' impression of what the completed Molonglo River Bridge will look like. Photo": ACT Government.

An artists’ impression of what the completed Molonglo River Bridge will look like. Photo: ACT Government.

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.

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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.

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Why isn’t Coppin crossing fixed? Bridge needs to be built before light Rail

Pretty poor planning to allow development of Denman & Whitlam and only have a dry weather crossing.

Why so? There is an alternative route for when it rains and the traffic volumes don’t justify any bigger just yet. As I’ve said a few times the volumes will justify it in a couple of years which is why construction should start soon, but to do Coppins Corssing does it’s job and there is an alternative route for when’s that’s closed.

Except it isn’t, they’ve simply delayed the planned new crossing construction until it was actually needed.

If anything, this is good planning from the government, which is fairly rare.

After the water receded last time the crossing was covered in debris. I guess that has to be cleared before it’s open. So this likely holds up opening as well.

While I fully support “Eric” and his campaign, with the benefit of the rear vision mirror, Molonglo should never have been developed until essential infrastructure was developed. After all, this is allegedly the most planned place in the world if you believe the rhetoric. My view is it is now a shambolic relic to a byegone era’s failings and the NCDC legends (in their own lunch times).
My point in this rant is that the draft new planning laws are about to be dropped on us. Maybe the keyboard warriors might like to scrutinise them in the context of recent urban planning failures and throw their 2 cents worth into the fray.

Stephen Saunders3:56 pm 12 Mar 22

Only in Australia, would you plonk thousands of residents into Molonglo, and blithely put them on a 19th century causeway, coz the bridge will be ready in 2025. Were it Japan or other modern nations, the bridge would come before the residents.

Compare with NSW Googong, where hapless punters are still waiting for their state school, seven years after the church school went in. Again, welcome to Australia.

So Brindle, I would be wary of assuming, this is an ACT Labor fail. It is standard LibLab practice all along the eastern seaboard, to dump bulk new residents (mainly migrants) in new houses in far-flung suburbs, and leave them to fend for themselves, as far as services go. This is no temporary bug – it is in fact the normal system. And also, would sir like fires and floods with that?

Problem of course is when infrastructure is built early or built to cater for later use government gets accused of wasting money and not spending that money elsewhere in the city.

And great case in point is when John Gorton drive was originally built as a dual lane divided road this very board was full of people whinging and complaining about it. Saying their road built 30 years previously should have been dual carriageway first.

And with this bridge in someways it really isn’t needed now. Sure causes inconvenience when it crossing is closed. It from a traffic capacity view point it is currently fine. Though in a few years different story so kicking off the building now is right.

exactly, this is a case of the government building infrastructure only when its needed instead of wasting limited funds.

If only they would do the same thing with light rail instead of wasting billions.

Linda Seaniger3:50 pm 12 Mar 22

Wow. The ACT government spend a whole $2000 for signage, where? I agree what’s needed is trailers announcing whether the weir is open or closed at every cross street along John Gordon until you actually get to the old weir.
I purchased my land in good faith that Coombs would have a local shopping centre and that buses would continue to operate down Fred Daly Street to go in to Civic. Theses service are both unavailable. Us local residents on mass should stop paying rates until the bridge is completed. Construction should have already commenced if it’s going to be completed by 2025 but I can see any evidence of that actually occurring. Instead the Existing access road to Belconnen has no street lighting, no verge and yet Cyclist use this road in winter where the potholes can be as large as mini car A major accident will occur on this road shortly if nothing is done. Its extremely poor planning of infrastructure needs by our Labor government. I guess we will have a tram station in Woden and still no bridge for the 20000 residents commuting to Belconnen because we don’t have a bus service.

Two points, with the shops the government has done what it can in relation to that. They can hardly force tenants to lease space in that centre and they really cannot just take back the land lease or resume the buildings under the current law. And if the law were change to be able to do that they could take back anything they liked which I am sure would be meet with howls of complain and government overreach in this very board and others like it.

And with the buses if you thought the bus route in a suburb would stay the way it was for ever more then do I have a deal for you. Doubly so in a new suburb and a township that has just started being developed. Good faith is total nonsense argument when it comes to buying houses and promises of anything being there or remaining there. That’s not how the world works.

The problem is that City Services are typically not around until hours after the actual flood level has risen. Manual signs to be flung down are therefore only deployed half a day after the road is already down, and typically only on one approach to Coppins Crossing. Most people who use the crossing therefore rely more on the: iscoppinscrossingopen.com website and word of mouth on social media more than the local signage. On days forced to exit via Weston Creek, the extra travel is over a 1/2 hour in peak because of the tens of thousands trying to get out via the only other route

Chris Steel should remember that the people he is treating with such contempt are his constituents. Certainly the people of the Molonglo Valley will remember ACT Labor’s many failures in this area when the next election rolls around: the Coombs shops debacle; the lack of infrastructure and facilities; traffic congestion; insufficient police support and the promises made but so rarely delivered. Labor and their partners in neglect (the Greens) have had ample time to address these issues but are plainly not interested in meeting the needs of the electorate. It’s time for them to go.

The problem is that people just vote for them because they don’t like the tony Abbots or John Howards. Sadly don’t know how the system work or doesn’t.

They often complain about things but never attribute them to who they just blindly vote for.
Maybe they just miss teaching about the system in schools or how to think objectionably and just following along instead.

What do you think the government could legally do about the shops? Do you think they should have forced Woolworths, Coles, Aldi or IGA to take up a lease in those shops?

Do you think the government should have taken the land and buildings back? If so do you not think that to do that would entail a long legal battle or do you think the laws be changed so a minister could just say give it back to me. If the later do you not think such a law could be used in other ways, even ways that might directly effect you?

So a debacle but not something the government has much control or say over really.

JC, you may not be aware of the history of the Coombs shops. It was the ACT Labor Government which set the failed policy limiting the size of the supermarket to 1,000 sqm (thereby making it unviable, as occurred in Giralang); it was ACT Labor which set the closed tender process for the sale of the land in Coombs (rather than an auction); it was ACT Labor which set the conditions of the lease, thereby allowing the developer to get away with only having one tenant, and it was the ACT Labor government which approved the DA which resulted in the monstrosity which now exists on Fred Daly Avenue. And to add insult to injury, it was the ACT Labor-Greens Government which has delayed the sale of land for the Molonglo Valley Group Centre. They claim it was to allow time for community consultation, but that could have occurred years ago. In any case, this Government only regards consultation as a check box exercise; they never take residents’ views into proper account. The only way the deficiencies in this area will be overcome is for the Labor and Greens MLAs to be replaced by some feisty independents. Chris Steel, Emma Davidson and Marissa Paterson must go.

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