3 August 2018

Days numbered for Weston-Woden rat-run

| Ian Bushnell
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The intersection of Heysen Street and Streeton Drive in Weston. Increasing traffic is causing problems. Photos: Ian Bushnell.

Roads ACT may soon move to shut down an increasingly popular rat-run between Woden and Weston Creek/Molonglo after concerns about increased traffic and speeding, particularly in peak times.

The Weston Creek Community Council has noted growing community concern about the number of vehicles using the Heysen Street and Devenport Street route to and from Woden instead of Hindmarsh Drive, since the development of the Molonglo Valley suburbs.

It had written to Roads ACT specifically about the growing difficulty in peak times of drivers turning right out of Heysen Street into Streeton Drive where there are no lights.

“With the growth of Molonglo, we are seeing many more vehicles heading north on Streeton Drive in the afternoon and wanting to turn left at the Cotter Road/John Gorton Drive. This is resulting in tail back past Dixon Drive which causes issues for traffic coming from Woden via Heysen Street,” the letter said.

Heysen Street may be a slower run soon with traffic calming measures on the cards. On the left is the old AFP site, soon to be a medium density housing development.

Traffic volumes on Heysen Street are likely to only get worse with the planned Village Building Company housing development on the old AFP site, and the issue has been a major concern of nearby residents.

The idea of traffic lights at the intersection of Heysen Street and Streeton Drive has been floated but Roads ACT does not see the necessity at present, saying the intersection is a low priority for improvement.

Senior Manager, Traffic Management and Safety Ben Hubbard at Roads ACT told the Council that peak hour volumes and delays on Streeton Drive were consistent with other arterial roads and the Heysen Street intersection had a relatively low crash rate of about three a year.

But he said a possible solution could be traffic calming on Heysen Street, which has a 60km/h speed limit, “to make this residential street route unattractive for any rat-runners”.

“This could also reduce the number of people trying to turn right out of Heysen in the evening peak,” he said.

Devenport Street, the Lyons leg of the run to Woden, has been the subject of many complaints about increased and speeding traffic, Mr Hubbard said, and could also be in store for calming measures, such as speed bumps.

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Blen_Carmichael7:22 am 15 Aug 18

Traffic calming measures are often overused, but something has to be done about Heysen Street. When I turn left on Bellette St from the roundabout on to Heysen Street, I observe extra caution due to drivers racing up Heysen as they approach the steep inclination under Tuggeranong Parkway. Once an ACTION bus nearly cleaned me up there. It’s amazing how many drivers are ignorant about the give way rule at roundabouts, but that’s another matter.

I am not sure it needs a speed reduction, however the section could do with a few enhancements. For example, turning right into Mulley St from Streeton Dr can be hazardous due to the vegetation (handy place to hide a speed camera van though) impeding the view of oncoming traffic. Turning right from Mulley St into Streeton Drive can also be difficult due to the rail on the overpass impeding a view of what direction the southbound traffic is actually taking – not an issue with a high vehicle though. The right turn from Namatjira onto Streeton presents different challenges due to the failure of southbound traffic to signal, or if turning left to enter the left turn lane until the last minute as well as other unique scenarios.

canberra236710:51 am 14 Aug 18

Personally I don’t understand how the section of Streeton Drive between Hindmarsh Drive and Cotter Road is still 80km p/h, given that there is the school and the shopping centre on either side. I would like to see 60km p/h for pedestrian safety and wouldn’t be opposed to measures to slow the traffic down.

Any traffic calming slow points on Heyson Street will also impact those of us who live in the area. I’m glad that someone is looking at this, but, please no speed humps.

Careful what you wish for, because all the whining that other people are using your road might end up getting you the constant “thunk thunk” of a set of speed bumps outside your house. hahah.

24×7. Thunk thunk. Thunk thunk. Thunk thunk.

Either that, or “traffic calming” slow points, AKA “I wonder how fast I can go through this” bendy medians for every P plater, ricer or wannabe racecar driver.

Enjoy. 🙂

I have already explained here about the historical accident which resulted in the Devonport/Heysen St link.

When Lyons was built, Devonport St was supposed to proceed north and link up with Cotter Rd. It was left as a dead end in the interim. When Weston was built a few years later, Heysen St was supposed to link with Tuggeranong Parkway, however the 1973/74 oil shock recession delayed construction of the Parkway.

When Tuggeranong Parkway was finally built it was decided to build a bridge with no links over Heysen St and extend Heyson St to Devonport St to provide a link – apart from Hindmarsh Drive – between Woden and Weston Creek.

Nowadays with the development of Molonglo, the link is carrying much more traffic than it was designed for. Perhaps we should look at the Learmonth Drive solution.

A few years after Tuggeranong was developed, motorists began using Learmonth Drive as a rat run to avoid traffic lights on Drakeford Drive. Savage speed reduction measures were then introduced. Four chicanes and a speed bump within 100m of each other have dramatically slowed traffic down. Perhaps that should be done with Devonport St/Heysen St.

Love that the ACT Government calls it ‘rat-running’ when the route is used by ACTION buses to ferry people from Molonglo to Woden …

When Weston was first built we were expected to go via Hindmarsh Drive to Civic. Cotter Road was a narrow country road. After a short time, they woke up to the fact that the more direct route that people were using was Cotter Road and had to widen it and put in the bridge over Adelaide Avenue.

The Heysen St/Devonport St/Launceston St route continues to grow in popularity and some truly bad driving can be seen along there on a daily basis. While installing traffic lights at the intersection will somewhat regulate the right turn traffic it will not address the substantive issue of a few sleepy back streets being joined together to make for the quickest trip between West Belconnen, Murrumbateman, Molonglo and parts of Weston Creek and Woden.

Any action needs to include addressing potential impacts on Hilder St and Unwin St otherwise they will become the alternative rat runs as far as the roundabout near the Defence Housing development.

Moving on to the Devonport/Launceston St end of the route I do not have a solution because it seems the streets operate beyond capacity for around 45 minutes every morning and evening.

Driver behaviour at most times is characterised by impatience and risk taking. This will not be addressed by the presence of a speed camera van every so often.

I note some participants raised issues along this route with MLA Chris Steele during the June 2018 Weston Creek Community Council meeting. I also note the chair did not make the meeting aware of his correspondence with Roads ACT during the discussion.

Little Gezzy Bear1:41 pm 04 Aug 18

“rat-run” is an offensive term for a legitimate route.

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