16 August 2022

Frustrated Molonglo Valley residents face another fortnight of Coppins Crossing closure

| Lottie Twyford
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Coppins Crossing aerial view

Coppins Crossing is closed – and it will be for another two weeks, much to the frustration of locals. Photo: Facebook.

Frustrated Molonglo Valley locals have been warned they are likely to face another two weeks of closures at the low-level Coppins Crossing across the Molonglo River.

It follows recent heavy rain washing debris onto the road and the guard rail being almost entirely washed away.

The bridge has now been closed since Friday, 5 August.

According to the operator of the Is Coppins Crossing Open site, Andrew*, it’s at least the 12th time the crossing has been closed in the last two years.

And while even Andrew concedes that it is a somewhat “first-world problem”, closing the crossing means an additional 20 minutes added to the morning and evening commute of the 6000 or so motorists who cross the river frequently.

aerial view of coppins crossing

Debris has been washed onto the low-level crossing. Photo: Facebook.

For families who live in Whitlam and have children who attend the school they are zoned for in Denman Prospect on the other side of the river, the five-minute drive is now at least 20 minutes. Construction traffic flowing through from Belconnen to the growing suburbs in the Molonglo Valley is also delayed, and it’s difficult for Molonglo residents to get to Belconnen which is where many do their groceries and access services.

And Andrew has already seen some vehicles doing what he notes coin the mmuters love to do – simply moving the barriers at either end of the crossing so they can drive through anyway.

Andrew has previously raised concerns about inadequate signage in the area, which means commuters don’t know the road is closed until they are down at the crossing.

Earlier this year, that led to the government installing some additional neon signage. But Andrew noted some of that has been taken away, and he’d like to see it back.

READ ALSO Light rail ‘near misses’ still happening three years down the track

Transport Canberra and City Services (TCCS) is currently procuring a contractor to come in and clear the debris from the crossing and reinstall the barriers that have washed away.

Executive branch manager infrastructure delivery at TCCS Jeremy Smith said this work can’t be completed until water levels have receded, which likely won’t be for another two weeks.

Mr Smith told ABC Radio on Monday morning (15 August) that water was being released from Lake Burley Griffin via Scrivener Dam and this was leading to higher water levels and higher pressure on the river than usual.

But Andrew disputes this fact. His data – which he’s taken from the Bureau of Meteorology – shows the water level has now returned to normal for some time.

He has also questioned why the government doesn’t have its own employees available to quickly come in and remediate the crossing to make it safe and functional.

“It’s really disappointing … Overall, this just highlights the fact there is no plan to deal with and manage flooding.”

READ ALSO Long ride but end-of-trip facilities planning change at finish line

Change is on the way, with a $175 million four-lane bridge expected to be completed and open to traffic by the end of 2025.

However, TCCS has already warned there could be delays to this timeline given worldwide materials shortages and supply chain issues.

Once completed, the new bridge will span 227.5 metres over the river and will be built above the level of a one-in-a-hundred-year flood in the Molonglo River.

Proposed bridge design

An artist’s impression of what the completed bridge will look like. Image: Supplied.

The project is being jointly funded by the Commonwealth and ACT governments.

A tender for design and construction closed two months ago and the government says it is currently evaluating the responses.

It’s expected that work will begin next year.

*Last name withheld upon request.

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Stop the stupid raising of London Crt. and the tram 2A and start building the bridge that should have been built at least 2 years ago. Once all the traffic disruption for 2A and then 2B start a reliable additional river crossing will be even more essential. Get your priorities straight and and build the important stuff first before all your fairytale dream projects.

Whitepointer6:54 pm 16 Aug 22

Why was a new guard rail installed on the crossing in the first place? This would have cost a small fortune. If new guard rails were required why the hell were they not designed to withstand the huge forces generated by the flooding and the associated debris from upstream? I suppose the ACT Government in their “wisdom”, is going to reinstall same guard rail system for it only to be destroyed again in the next downpour.

The next will will be expensive bronze.

swaggieswaggie4:50 pm 16 Aug 22

When did we all become so soft? Why do we wait like sheep for Barr’s penpushers to organise something? 25 years ago a couple of local blokes would have borrowed a mini loader and got the crossing cleared in a couple of hours. Job done and a well earned slab to finish off the day.

Easy to fix, just close the road and there is no confusion..

The only thing that has changed is that people now live there. What did they expect when they moved in.

However pretty poor that they have to procure someone to clean it, surely its a known issue and would have a contract of engagement whenever the need arose?

The bridge should wait until light rail comes though. Why waste doing the bridge twice.. too expensive.

I love these squeeky wheel stories where someone pretends their priority should be everyone’s priority.

I’m sure we would all love to have ACT govt employees sitting around waiting to jump onto our own personal priorities but the real world does not work like that.

Should the additional funding be taken from schools? Health care? Increases in rates or taxes?

Advocating for increasing expenditure without looking at these wider issues is just hot air.

No need to increase anything. Instead of a couple of ACT politicians going on a junket, sorry business trip, to Singapore for $35,000, maybe get a couple of workers with a hiab or excavator there and clean it up.

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