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Fixing the congestion on Pialligo Avenue.

By Tenpoints 25 September 2013 24

I just sent the following email to (given on advice from CanberraConnect). I’m about to become a homeowner in Queanbeyan, so this is plainly a selfish interest. But it’s a selfish interest that would benefit several thousand other people who commute from Queanbeyan into Civic/Belconnen/Gunghalin daily by the only viable transit method currently available (Catching the bus is $14 return).

Starts Here…

The Question:

With increasing development in Queanbeyan I was wondering if the ACT has anything in the pipeline with respect to upgrading Pialligo Avenue to improve peak volume capacity to and from Queanbeyan-Canberra Airport?

The Problem:

In brief, I claim the main issue that is holding up Pialligo Avenue is the traffic lights at Glenora Drive. More details below…

In preface, I will state as part of my view that this is a distinctly separate issue to any roadworks that are ongoing with respect to the turning lane upgrade at Fairbairn Avenue or the construction of the Majura Parkway.

I see on a regular basis during morning rush hour, a motor vehicle queue that stretches from the relatively new traffic lights at Queanbeyan all the way back to Yass Road in Queanbeyan. It can take approximately 30-45 minutes to clear this section plus the normal time to get into the city. During non-peak times you can get from Queanbeyan to Civic via Yass road in under 20 minutes driving.

In the case of evening rush hour, the traffic is a little faster but there are niggling issues like the split to two lanes west of Glenora drive, then merge to one lane east of Glenora, which seems to encourage less responsible members of the community to engage in risky overtake and merge manoeuvres. The overtaking lane up the hill also causes congestion at the merge point in the evening. Lastly, the split merge at the roundabouts can occasionally lead to issues similar to any form one lane.

The morning problem with Pialligo avenue seems to stem from:

  • The traffic lights at Glenora drive, which reduce the throughput of the road to below the flow needed to achieve acceptable peak hour speeds.

The evening problem with Pialligo avenue is -to my mind- contributed to by these factors, in addition to the traffic lights:

  • The form one lane on either side of the southern roundabout to Brindabella Business Park.
  • The eastbound  form one lane east of the Glenora Drive lights.
  • The eastbound overtaking lane merge just over the hill.

The backlog creates issues at the Oaks Estate turnoff with a significant queue down that road. The only reason those cars get onto the Pialligo Road in the morning is due to an occasional show of common courtesy by right-of-way drivers.

There is also a Quarry on the south side of the road just east of the Glenora drive. Trucks often exit this quarry during morning peak hour, and it must be difficult for the drivers due to the solid line of cars created by the congestion.

If I remember correctly, the Glenora Drive lights were installed before Pialligo Avenue was upgraded to Canberra Airport, but after the Brindabella Business Park was started. In that way the traffic was already banked up from the airport so the congestion was already bad enough that the lights did not have any further effect on the flow. I think the Glenora Drive lights need to be upgraded as a matter of priority to expand their throughput capacity for traffic between Queanbeyan and Canberra.

The Solution:

In brief, I suggest that you need to upgrade the Traffic Lights at Glenora drive to improve motor vehicle throughput at peak times. More details below…

  1. 1. Cheap short term option:

Fixes the morning commute in the short-medium term:

1.1   Add a westbound slip lane around the Glenora drive traffic lights, like a small scale version of Macarthur Avenue -> Belconnen Avenue (westbound). Traffic turning right from Glenora drive onto Pialligo would  merge into peak hour traffic without completely stopping the flow while the lights do their cycle for the one (usually) merging car.

1.2   In terms of the Quarry trucks, increased traffic flow might make it more difficult to negotiate right hand turns. In that case, 2.2 may be necessary to implement.

  1. 2. Expensive Medium Term Option:

Fixes morning and evening commute in the medium term.

2.1   Duplicate Pialligo avenue in both directions from the form one lane south of the northern roundabout, round the bottom of the airport and through the Glenora drive traffic lights, merging to one lane each way just after the Quarry.

2.2   Build a right turn slip lane at the Quarry similar to the Oaks Estate junction to improve safety of Heavy Vehicles turning eastbound onto Pialligo.

  1. 3. More expensive Long term Option:

3.1   Duplicate Pialligo Avenue all the way back to Yass Road in Queanbeyan. Probably overkill at the moment, but I anticipate it will be a lot more viable if the Ellerton Drive Extension gets built.

What’s Your opinion?

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24 Responses to
Fixing the congestion on Pialligo Avenue.
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rosscoact 1:43 pm 14 Oct 13

Seeing the Commonwealth is solely responsible for the approval of the development on the airport site and the airport designed the road system upgrade that is currently there, possibly a level of responsibility jointly lays there?

thebrownstreak69 1:25 pm 14 Oct 13

watto23 said :

It needs to be a jointly funded road, much like Tharwa drive to Monaro was.

+1. It’s the only sensible solution.

A_Cog 1:07 pm 14 Oct 13

The Majura Parkway is currently costed at $288m, and Majura Road currently “carries around 18,000 vehicles a day, of which 2,800 are commercial or heavy freight vehicles.”

Currently, Queanbeyan is a town of about 42,000 people, with a whole bunch of businesses like those in East Queanbeyan. By 2030, Queanbeyan’s population will rise to 60,000, and I’d expect the industrial development in Quangers to be massive, as the NSW Government and Queanbeyan Council already realises they can piggy-back on the ACT’s growth and grow Queanbeyan into a pretty-fair sized regional city without battling through the lightweight ACT Government or suffering from ACT NIMBY-ism. Just look at where East Queanbeyan’s industrial estate goes up to now: right up to the ACT/NSW border!

Pialligo Avenue should already be 2 lanes each way all the way (as should Sutton Road), but we’ll be waiting decades for something to be done by the ACT Government.

Tenpoints 12:36 pm 14 Oct 13

watto23 said :

The issue is even if QCC/NSW could afford to pay for it, I think many non Queanbeyan, NSW residents would be pissed off with this. It needs to be a jointly funded road, much like Tharwa drive to Monaro was.

Also I completely agree, all these developments get built without a lot of consideration for roads. That was one grip I had with Tralee. The solution with traffic there is to pump it out onto the Monaro highway! That road has annoying bottlenecks and lights that bank up the main flow of traffic to allow a few users onto it. probably needs an expensive overpass intersection, but it won’t get built.

Yes, I guess on a state scale it needs to be weighed up against a bunch of other major routes like the Kings Highway, Barton Highway, other roads around Sydney and anywhere else where people drive.

I guess since no-one has been killed on that stretch in living memory it’s already pretty low on the priority list.

Yes, a lot of subdivisions get built first and then “oh wait, the roads are now terrible” happens, when new residents start complaining about commute times. It’s hardly surprising that cross-border roads get minimum attention paid to them if most of the time roads within the territory are upgraded years after the developments are commissioned.

I’m going to write to the QCC and try and get the ball rolling on some sort of action plan for Pialligo Avenue.

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