Canberra is about to undergo major heart surgery, with flow-on implications for a number of arteries.
Construction fences, traffic cones and roadworks are popping up all around City Hill as light rail begins its slow journey to Woden.
The ACT Government has formed a multi-agency Disruption Taskforce to manage the impacts on motorists after early analysis suggested the inevitable: “without intervention, construction impacts will lead to congestion and delays.”
If Northbourne Avenue, London Circuit, Vernon Circle, Commonwealth Avenue or pretty much any road in Civic forms part of your commute, here’s what you need to know about the next few years of roadworks.
Stage 2 of light rail, which consists of two parts.
Stage 2A will take it from its current termination at the end of Northbourne Avenue to Commonwealth Park via London Circuit and Commonwealth Avenue. This translates to 1.7 kilometres of track. Stage 2B will take the tracks all the way to Woden, across the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge, wire-free around Parliament House and then down the middle of Adelaide Avenue.
At the moment, London Circuit passes underneath Commonwealth Avenue so around 60,000 cubic metres of fill will be used to bring London Circuit up by six metres so the two form a level intersection. This will be accompanied by traffic lights and bicycle lanes.
As part of this, two existing cloverleaf-shaped ramps will also be removed.
Crews have spent the past few months relocating telecommunication and other utility lines around London Circuit. This is due to be finished in early December.
They’ve also set up site bases in three car parks in the area: the City Hill car park on the corner of Constitution Avenue and London Circuit, the car park at 41 Marcus Clarke Street, and the Acton Waterfront car park. They’ve also flagged a fourth car park at the corner of London Circuit and Edinburgh Avenue as work progresses.
To help shoulder the traffic burden placed on neighbouring roads while all this is going on, traffic lights are being installed on the Parkes Way roundabout and Vernon Circle. A bus lane will also be added to Vernon Circle.
Utilities and footpaths will go in around Vernon Circle over five nights until Friday, 18 November, resulting in temporary closures and detours.
Work on the asphalt, traffic lights, car sensors and line marking will then take place at night from Monday, 21 November, to Friday, 25 November. In the event of poor weather, work may be delayed to the following week. This will bring more temporary closures and delays.
At the same time, car sensors will be installed at the corner of Edinburgh Avenue and Vernon Circle to improve traffic flow around this intersection. This work will require a partial closure of the intersection and detours will be in place.
Footpaths, pram ramps and street light poles will also go up near City Hill between Monday, 28 November, and Friday, 2 December.
From early next year, the National Capital Authority (NCA) is also preparing to upgrade Commonwealth Avenue Bridge with wider lanes and wider footpaths. The plan is for this to be completed at the same time as Stage 2A.
Where else can I go?
Drive through the area if you must, but allow extra time. You may be stopped or sent on a detour.
Otherwise, if you’re commuting south from Gungahlin by car, try Gungahlin Drive and Caswell Drive. Going east to west? Try Kings Avenue, State Circle and Adelaide Avenue. Alternatively, Parkes Way itself will remain largely unaffected.
Where can I park?
At the moment, the car parks at 3 Knowles Place and Theatre Lane remain open. Normal rates apply. Further afield, there’s always the Canberra Centre and a car park on Narellan Street.
When will it be finished?
How long is a piece of string?
The Federal Government has set January 2026 as the completion date for Stage 2A of light rail, even though the ACT Government has yet to confirm this. We can safely assume London Circuit will be out of action for at least three years from the beginning of next year.
The ACT Government says, throughout construction, they will continue to notify of upcoming work, monitor activities and make adjustments where needed.
Get the latest light rail construction notifications online.