16 December 2020

Government moves ahead with Molonglo River bridge

| Ian Bushnell
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The proposed bridge across the Molonglo Rive

An artist’s impression of the proposed bridge across the Molonglo River. Images: ACT Government.

The ACT Government is moving to complete John Gorton Drive, including a bridge across the Molonglo River, with a development application lodged for the $175 million infrastructure project that will connect the growing suburbs of the Molonglo Valley and provide a flood-proof dual carriage-way link to Belconnen.

The project could be completed by 2024 or 2025.

The 1.7 km final Stage 3C will connect Stage 2A, completed in 2018, and 3B, currently under construction, and includes a 227.5-metre long, high-level bridge which will be capable of carrying light rail, and link back up with the northern section of Coppins Crossing Road.

The Molonglo River often floods across the low-lying Coppins Crossing Road, severing an increasingly busy route as the Molonglo Valley grows.

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Communities in Weston Creek and Molonglo have been calling for the bridge project to be fast-tracked.

Coppins Crossing Road is a single-lane, winding road with a top speed limit of 80 km/h. The project will improve road safety and reduce travel times.

The project, to be built across 19 rural blocks, also includes a separated shared pedestrian and cycle path on either side of the road, two new signalised intersections either side of the bridge and direct access to the new Whitlam housing estate.

The bridge will not have street lighting but the shared paths either side of the bridge will be lit.

Coppins Crossing

Debris blocks Coppins Crossing after flooding. Photos: John Mungoven.

John Gorton Drive is designed to be an integrated transport link, accommodating buses and a future light rail stage alongside.

The Molonglo Valley Community Forum welcomed the lodgment of the DA.

Forum spokesperson Ryan Hemsley said he was pleased to see that the ACT Government was making progress on the Molonglo River Bridge Crossing project.

“This bridge is a vital piece of infrastructure for the Molonglo Valley and the ACT. We need this bridge to get over any flooding at Coppins Crossing and to stitch together the Molonglo Valley,” he said

“With construction commencing in Whitlam, it is imperative for residents that we can connect the two sides of the river to improve private and public transport access and enable the construction of the Molonglo Commercial Centre.”

Mr Hemsley said the bridge would significantly improve transport and traffic safety in the area.

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Weston Creek Community Council chair Tom Anderson, who has led the charge for the bridge to be fast-tracked, said the DA gave him heart that the project will be built sooner rather than later.

Mr Anderson said the bridge would not just benefit Weston Creek and Molonglo residents but would be vital to the overall road network.

He said an alternative route from Molongo to West Belconnen was a now necessary piece of infrastructure with pressure building on the Tuggeranong Parkway.

”Almost a week doesn’t go by without a blockage on the Parkway running south or north, and once that happens, particularly around the Glenloch Interchange, there is no alternative road. You can come across Coppins Crossing but that’s flirting with danger if there is a flood or there is an accident there,” he said.

”I just hope they get on with it and do it very quickly. It’s going to be very worthwhile for the infrastructure of Canberra not just in Molonglo, more important I think for the connectivity of the city.”

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Transport and City Services Minister Chris Steel said detailed design work should commence in 2021 and take about 12 months to complete, followed by a two to three-year construction period.

He said the government’s Jobs and Economic Recovery Plan included the $175 million for the final stage of John Gorton Drive, including the 227.5m bridge crossing. The Commonwealth Government later contributed $87.5 million to the project in its 2020-21 Budget.

In August, the government also allocated $2 million for enabling works which had allowed it to lodge the DA to expedite the delivery of the bridge, Mr Steel said.

DA representations close on 27 January 2021.

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This road will inevitably be used when the Parkway is blocked or choked up. Welcome the go-ahead but heading south it’s a dual carriageway straight into a conga line of traffic lights. I don’t know how the territory’s planners approach these things but it seems to be the same hidden logic that resulted in one of Gunghahlin’s main access roads (Flemington) running straight into a 40 zone between two shopping centres with a pedestrian crossing. With traffic increases over time “solutions” to connect to roads heading West involve zigzags to get where you want to go.

Now that is one smart lookin’ bridge.
However where will the tram run ?

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