17 October 2022

Coppins Crossing Road fatalities: calls to upgrade safety and fast track bridge

| Ian Bushnell
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Accident at Coppins Crossing Road

Police investigate the scene on Coppins Crossing Road on Sunday. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

There are calls for the ACT Government to fast-track the long-awaited Molonglo River Bridge project and boost safety on Coppins Crossing Road after Sunday’s horror smash that claimed three lives.

Community representatives and regular users of the increasingly busy road linking Belconnen with the fast-growing Molonglo Valley have been calling for a new road and bridge across the Molonglo River for years.

The accident happened where two lanes merge into one on a downhill slope before heading into a corner.

Weston Creek Community Council Chair Bill Gemmell drives the route regularly and says that section of the road is a dangerous pinch point and deceptive to the inexperienced driver, especially if travelling at speed.

“They will cross the centre of the road there because they’re coming down the hill too fast,” he said.

“It’s quite a deceptive road.”

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But he was loathe to link the accident to the bridge project, saying the bigger issue was the way infrastructure was often delayed until residents were in place and the pressure was too great.

Molonglo Community Forum co-convenor Monique Brouwer said it was hoped that the government would not wait until the findings of the investigation to make the road safer.

“It’s so unsafe that road at the best of times. We’ve been calling out for the bridge and for Coppins Crossing and that whole stretch of road to be fixed for a long, long time,” Ms Brouwer said.

“Is there more we can do to make it a safe road as we’re waiting for the results of the investigation?”

Ms Brouwer said drivers needed to slow down where the lanes merge because that was where accidents happened.

She said the bridge project can’t come too soon.

“It’s just tragic and the Forum hopes that the government fast-tracks the bridge as much as they can to get it moving because that will improve that whole section of road,” she said.

The speed limit on the road is 80 km/h unless otherwise signposted, but there are calls for it to be 60 km/h on either side of the crossing where it is only two lanes.

“The whole road is a hodge-podge of signage. Missing, damaged and frequently changed because of roadworks makes it pretty hard to work out the speed limit,” one post on social media said.

Another said government management of Coppins Crossing and its approaches had been poor, particularly with increasing traffic loads from new suburbs on each side.

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As well as a lower speed limit, the post from the ‘Is Coppins Crossing Open Yet?’ website called for a ban on heavy or articulated vehicles from using Coppins Crossing, widening the roadway to include road shoulders, installing more street lighting and clearing overhanging vegetation and embankments that obscure the road ahead.

The ACT Government said it was committed to delivering the duplication of John Gorton Drive and Molonglo River Bridge, and the project was still on track for completion in 2025.

A spokesperson said the Tender Evaluation Team was assessing the submissions for the project’s design and construction.

The detailed design work will commence in early 2023 and is expected to be completed around the middle of the year.

But the spokesperson said some factors could delay completion.

“The timing of major infrastructure projects is dependent on initial works being completed, which includes detailed design completion and environmental and planning approvals,” the spokesperson said.

“Construction timing is also impacted by Australia’s highly competitive construction market, which is placing significant demand on the availability of labour and materials.”

The bridge project will not only mean a safer and more appropriate route between Belconnen and Molonglo and Weston Creek but a secure one not blocked by floodwaters or debris when there is heavy rain.

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Linda Seaniger8:45 am 21 Oct 22

I purchased in Coombs because I had a rapid bus stop within 100 meters of my home, a shopping centre within 850 meters and improved transport links to Belconnen with the replacement of the Coppins Crossing weir in progress. Our bus service to Civic was cancelled, The Coombs shops have a couple of convenience stores – NO supermarket and a bridge over the Molonglo river is still in planning.
Let’s stop paying rates until green/labor delivers on our basic promised facilities.

Linda Seaniger8:38 am 21 Oct 22

I think the government should fulfil its promises and complete the bridge by 2024. I purchased in Coombs because I had a rapid bus stop within 100 meters of my home, a shopping centre within 850 meters and improved transport links to Belconnen with the replacement of the Coppins Crossing weir in progress. So far the murky brown not GREEN/labor team have cancelled the bus service, its taking over 5 years and all we have in The Coombs shops are a couple of convenience stores – NO supermarket and a bridge over the Molonglo river talked around but NOT scheduled or funded in the Budget. How about all us Molonglo residents STOP PAYING RATES until our basic promisesd services are delivered. By the way has anyone ever seen our LOCAL member?

Nothing will be done because all the funding is going towards paying for the antiquated tram that most Weston Creekers and Molonglo residents will rarely use, if ever.

ChrisinTurner4:52 pm 18 Oct 22

Perhaps safety should become part of the design instead of only “keeping the traffic moving” as fast as possible.

The ACT Government will probably just whack down a bunch of speedbumps – it seems to be the only response they are capable of (how about removing from our roads those drivers who can’t control a car and keep it within the lane?).

Love the “But the spokesperson said some factors could delay completion.”
Our ACT Government seems to have forgotten that the 2019 Infrastructure Plan states that design and construction of the Molonglo River Bridge would begin in 2020–21, and the bridge would be completed in 2024.
The only thing that has begun are the excuses.

There should be a requirement that any road in the ACT that is 80km and used by more than 1000 cars a day should be a separated road. This should be applied universally rather than based on polling numbers before an election.

At the end of the day, with most head on collisions there is vehicle that is most likely driving to the speed limit and doing nothing wrong, and completely just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Would it be nice if we could give some piece of mine for those travelling or have family travelling on the roads that they might make it home safely?

Those that are lost on the roads would be the biggest advocates for more safety if they were still with us.

Capital Retro12:16 pm 18 Oct 22

And they need to paint large arrows to confirm which way the traffic goes, especially on Astley Drive where completion of the divided road is still to be done. I’ve had a few near misses with oncoming interstate cars in the wrong lanes – you can’t blame them because the earthworks for the divided road indicate there is a divided road. There was a fatal head on collision between a ute and an ACTION bus a few years ago.

Those “distancing chevrons” on the Tuggeranong Parkway were a waste of paint.

Capital Retro9:18 am 21 Oct 22

I think I meant to say “Erindale Drive”.

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