The ACT Government has announced funding of $2 million to progress planning and approvals for the Molonglo River Bridge but has ruled out fast-tracking the $150 million project, disappointing community calls for the much-needed piece of infrastructure to be given priority.
City Services and Transport Minister Chris Steel said early design works had been completed for the project and the next stage would be detail design.
”The ACT Government is committed to building the Molonglo River Bridge as the third stage of John Gorton Drive connecting the Molonglo Valley with Belconnen and the City,” he said.
”Given the significant amount of approvals and design work required before this project can commence construction, it is not yet shovel ready and cannot be fast-tracked.”
Weston Creek Community Council chair Tom Anderson had written to the Minister for a second time calling for the project to be brought forward after the recent heavy rain flooded Coppins Crossing and an accident at the Glenloch Interchange brought the Tuggeranong Parkway to a standstill.
”This is the exact type of scenario that Council has warned about for several years now, and we can expect similar events of this scale to occur in the years ahead,” Mr Anderson wrote.
”Surely now the cost of these incidents and closures to the community and Government should bring about a re-assessment of the proposed timeframe for the new flood-proof Molonglo River Bridge.”
Mr Anderson told Region Media that the $2 million was a drop in the ocean and the slow pace of the project was poor planning, given population growth in the Molonglo Valley and that people will be moving into the new suburb of Whitlam next year.
”The government needed to start the detailed planning two years ago,” he said.
He believes the Government doesn’t want to bring the project forward because of the cost, and because it hasn’t factored in the budget for Light Rail Stages 2A and 2B.
The council views the bridge as an essential link to ensure all-weather access between Molonglo suburbs, as well as alternative access routes in times of high congestion or emergency.
”It is disappointing to not only the Molonglo community but the wider Canberra community to hear that there is no plan to bring this project forward,” Mr Anderson told the Minister.