17 May 2021

Government bracing for traffic surge on Parkes Way, Tuggeranong Parkway

| Ian Bushnell
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The Tuggeranong Parkway

The Tuggeranong Parkway takes 40,000 vehicles a day and rising. Photo: File.

The increasing vulnerability of Canberra’s major south-western artery to traffic snarls and expected further pressures from new suburban and city population growth has the ACT Government worried about whether the corridor will be able to cope.

It wants to know what long-term upgrades are needed along Parkes Way, from Kings Avenue to the Glenloch Interchange, and the length of the Tuggeranong Parkway to relieve traffic congestion, improve safety and increase capacity for heavier freight vehicles.

In the short and medium-term, the government also wants to know what improvements can be made to the section between the Glenloch Interchange and Commonwealth Avenue.

The government seeks a consultant to develop an Infrastructure Study Report that takes in existing road conditions, utilities and stormwater networks, and options for upgrades along Parkes Way and the South-West Corridor.

Parkes Way and the Tuggeranong Parkway, particularly between the Glenloch Interchange and the Cotter Road, have become notorious for peak-hour gridlock when accidents, even minor ones occur, due to the restrictions of the road and the limited viable alternative routes available.

The government has tried various remedies, including the painting of chevrons on the road to help prevent tailgating and is in the process of converting the northern stretch of the Parkway into Canberra’s first smart road with the installation of cameras and variable speed limits using sensors.

A truck rollover in the Glenloch Interchange underpass

A truck rollover in the Glenloch Interchange underpass: the sort of accident that can bring the road network to a standstill. Photo: ESA.

But the tender document says traffic volumes are expected to continue to increase due to ongoing land releases and associated population growth in the west of Canberra, combined with the densification of city and town centres.

The Tuggeranong Parkway during peak times caters for more than 4,000 vehicles per hour and more than 40,000 a day.

The study will have to account for a number of projects in train, including Light Rail Stage 2A and new traffic lights at the Coranderrk Street/Parkes Way intersection and the raising of London Circuit, and a new road from the Molonglo Valley to the Parkway.

The Molonglo Valley developments are already pouring new traffic into the Cotter Road and on to the Parkway. This planned new road from Molonglo will mean developing a new interchange north of the Molonglo River and an extra lane by 2026.

The tender document also says the study will support the freight network in the Canberra region by improving East-West connectivity through Parkes Way and identifying the preferred secondary East-West road freight corridor through Canberra.

This will mean upgrading the corridor to take bigger and heavier freight loads. For example, the study will look at height limits in the Acton Tunnel and under the Commonwealth Avenue bridges that restrict the size of trucks using the corridor, load ratings against current standards for bridges and culverts, and pavement issues.

The study will also examine the Tuggeranong Parkway bridge over the Molonglo River because the bridge has minimal shoulders and is unlikely to be widened in the future, and the Glenloch Interchange, which is likely to become a problem when additional capacity is added to the Parkway.

Other factors the consultant will need to take into account are future land releases in the Acton Waterfront and City West, and the UNSW Canberra development in Reid.

The tender closes on 31 May.

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Did none of y’all ever play sim city ? Crawl before you walk. Oh and there’s a clue in ‘peak hour’ . Flex time. It’s really not that hard.

HiddenDragon8:22 pm 19 May 21

The estimated $40bn. per year in long-term “Budget repair” which awaits a future government will alleviate some of the commute congestion problems, including through a likely squeeze on Commonwealth funding to states and territories (always a popular option for federal Treasurers who want to spread the political pain).

I see at least 10% of road users who should be suspended, on the daily.
There is zero road enforcement in ACT. I haven’t even been breathalysed in 10 years.
I also see about half a dozen cars a day which look/smell like they haven’t been serviced in years.
Start by cracking down on regulation and actually get serious on removing cars before making room for more.

Mandatory licence suspension for accidents caused would also be another good policy

Leon Arundell8:18 am 19 May 21

Here are some starters:
1. Encourage drivers to become car passengers, by converting under-utilised bus lanes to T2 or T3 lanes
2. Encourage more drivers to become bus or passengers, by converting general traffic lanes to T2 or T3 lanes, in places where that would reduce traffic congestion.
3. Encourage people and employers to reduce traffic congestion by continuing work-from-home arrangements.
4. Encourage organisations to locate closer to their employees, their clients and their customers.

michael quirk7:00 am 19 May 21

The need for additional infrastructure expenditure on Parkes Way and the Tuggeranong Parkway to address congestion is a result of the ACT and Federal governments abandonment of employment location policies.
Employment decentralisation to the Woden, Belconnen and Tuggeranong Town Centres up to 1990 reduced the transport infrastructure required, led to shorter journeys to work and supported commercial and community services in the town centres.
Since then major office location decisions have been made by individual Commonwealth departments without consideration of the impact of their decisions on the functioning of the city. This failure has been compounded by the ACT government failure to adequately analyze the benefits and costs of alternative settlement strategies.
The result has been employment growth in the central city and at the Airport (rather than at town centres including Gungahlin) and greenfield residential development occurring to the west of the city, increasing travel, congestion and the infrastructure required.
For too long employment location has been put in the too hard basket. The ACT government, to improve the sustainability of Canberra, needs to initiate discussions on employment location with the Commonwealth, evaluate Kowen as a settlement area and assess the level of benefit generated by its residential infill policy.

I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. My work moved out of Tuggeranong to the airport in the mid 2000s. The Tuggeranong building we were in sat empty for a decade. The Town centres should be driving employment growth NOT Civic and the Airport. This would help our public transport systems and reduce the needs for long car commutes. Let’s decentralise not clog up our great city centre and the Lake.

Who would have thought that taking buses off the Tuggeranong Parkway and also making peoples peak hour bus commute from Tuggeranong and West Belconnen slower would result in more people driving?

Surely Canberra’s urban transport planners wouldn’t be that dumb.

BJ,
There are still peak hour buses from Tuggeranong to the city using the Parkway. The problem with this road and the future operation of it goes way beyond that.

You’ll have to enlighten me about all these Parkway buses. I presume It’s nothing like the old days with many buses up and down the Parkway. Maybe a couple of random ones from deep Tuggeranong in a tiny time window?????

BJ,
The 180 and 181 buses run peak hour services up the Parkway to the city. Could there be more of them? Yes.

But the only time the capacity of the Parkway is an issue is in peak hour, so other than a couple more peak hour buses, more buses generally won’t make much difference to this issue because you simply won’t get enough people who drive now catching those buses anyway.

I just checked the timetable and it’s just a few buses going into the City leaving between 6.34am and 7.16am. You’re clutching at straws claiming that morning peak hour buses use the Tuggeranong Parkway.

BJ,
No you’re clutching at straws (of an obvious hobby horse) claiming that buses are the answer or that the removal of buses is the cause of the problem.

As I’ve said, they could have more of these peak hour buses. But when they did have more of those buses, they often weren’t full anyway. And I know that because I used to catch them daily.

The problem is that those buses can’t replace the functionality of private cars which means a lot of people will shun them regardless.

Michael Quirk above has outlined some of the main issues that are far more relevant than a few extra buses down the Parkway. The problems are much bigger than that.

Chewy you are the king of strawman arguments.

Did I say removing buses from the Parkway was the cause of the problem? No. But, bus use in North Tuggeranong and West Belconnen dropped when Xpresso’s and the use of trunk roads changed in 2019.

Did I say buses could replace the functionality of cars? Of course not.

As for Michael Quirk with the main issues. That’s exactly why I responded in agreement with him days ago. Your comment suggests that I disagree with him and think the buses are the main problem.

I’ll stick with my original claim that peak hour buses that use the trunk roads into civic would at least get some people out of their cars.

You were the one who said there’s still peak hour buses from Tuggeranong to City.
You started the Strawman arguments when I pointed out that this was just a few buses over a 45 minute period from 6.30am.

I encourage others to strawman your comments on this site (noting in fairness to you that they probably already do) or to counter your comments with edge examples that don’t fit your key point.

BJ,
Your own words:

“Who would have thought that taking buses off the Tuggeranong Parkway and also making peoples peak hour bus commute from Tuggeranong and West Belconnen slower would result in more people driving?”

Where is the strawman is pointing out this was incorrect and buses still do travel on the Parkway?

Where is the strawman in claiming that you think the removal of those buses is the a major cause of the problem, when it’s literally what you claimed in the original statement.

From your additional clarifying comments, I actually think our positions aren’t too far apart on this issue but that’s not what you originally said.

I agree that some more targetted bus routes might alleviate part of the issue but it’s not going to be a major fix, because it isn’t one of the main issues causing the problem.

As I said, I used to catch those buses myself and they were often not close to being full. More buses won’t fix the issue of people not wanting to catch buses in the first place.

Capital Retro3:21 pm 18 May 21

Why is it necessary to outsource the decision to consultants at a huge cost to the ratepayers?

We have various directorates with highly paid and well qualified executives running them. These people, who through their education and training with immediate access to all the required input are able to interpret reports and recommendations prepared by their peers in the private sector that they should be able to compile themselves.

What a waste of money and resources.

Are you serious?

The days of the ACT government having a large amount of technical experts on the books to run these types of intermittent consultant studies in specialist areas are long gone.

“These people, who through their education and training with immediate access to all the required input are able to interpret reports and recommendations prepared by their peers in the private sector that they should be able to compile themselves.”

Very little of this statement matches with reality.

I drive from West Belconnen to Woden daily doing 24/7 shift work, traffic build up even out of peak hour is becoming more common. Before the more recent suburbs were developed, the Old Cotter Road etc should have been developed into a fast across town route instead of more traffic being forced onto The Parkway.

Given the amount of government controlled residential development in the Molonglo Valley, which pushes more traffic onto the Tuggeranong Parkway and Parkes Way, one would have thought that such a study should have been done years ago.

Simple solution, turn it into a tollway and charge more for busy periods,

Nicole Milne10:42 am 18 May 21

the parkway doesn’t cope now, wouldn’t it be better to be on the front foot, rather than wait. I live south side, and I would travel West unless absolutely necessary in the mornings. lucky for me I got a job closer to home, rather than having to drive to civic everyday.

The parkway does cope now. Sure it gets congested but roads are designed for an acceptable level of congestion. What is acceptable is up to personal opinion. And that’s half the problem. Many people remember what the roads used to be like when Canberra was smaller but reality is with a growing city there is nothing you could do to bring traffic flow back to those 1990/2000’s levels.

That said in the future these roads will get worse and there are things that can be done to help. I would have thought what is being done now is part of getting on the front foot, noting what I said above that there is no way roads will be back to where they were before.

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