8 March 2024

John Gorton Drive extension DA paves way for Molonglo Town Centre

| Ian Bushnell
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map of new road

The project area for the 0.8 km John Gorton Drive extension that will run through the Molonglo Town Centre. Images: ACT Government.

It may only be 0.8 km in length, but a proposed extension of John Gorton Drive in the Molonglo Valley will contribute to the development of the Molonglo Town Centre and linkages that will make life easier for motorists getting in and out of the fast-growing district in Canberra’s west.

Following recent government announcements about the start of construction of the Molonglo River Bridge and the upgrading of the planned group centre to town centre status, a development application has been lodged for this part of the John Gorton Drive extension.

It will connect with the transformative bridge project and prepare for the eventual construction of the East-West arterial, providing another entry and exit route via the Tuggeranong Parkway.

The $17 million project will also prepare the Town Centre for its public transport connections, including a future light rail line.

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The DA prepared by SMEC for the Suburban Land Agency says the project, starting 200 metres south of the Holborow Avenue intersection, will comprise a 7-metre dual carriageway each way that will run through the Town Centre and include a wider median to accommodate a future light rail corridor.

It will also include separated paths for cyclists and pedestrians.

The current layout for the Molonglo Group, now to be Town Centre, and transport linkages.

Three new intersections will be built: a left-in and left-out-only intersection on Park Street East and Park Street West, a priority signalised intersection on Bus Street for the use of buses only, and a four-way signalised intersection on Pond Street.

Existing bus stops will be moved to the proposed transit hub located on either side of John Gorton Drive on the eastern edge of the commercial core between Bus Street and Park Street.

The previously approved design for the transit hub has a 50-metre main corridor running through the Town Centre, a 3-metre shared user path, a 6-metre verge with street trees, a 2-metre on-road cycle lane, a 7-metre dual carriageway in each direction and an 8-metre median lane reserved for future light rail.

The transit boulevard will be 2 metres wider than the approved design with four additional lines of street trees.

The DA says two strips of street trees will be added between the cycle lane and carriageway to protect vulnerable road users from vehicles and encourage active travel.

The two strips of street trees added to the future light rail corridor and carriageway will improve the overall amenity and tree canopy within the area while reducing the urban heat island effect and being more visually appealing.

Before light rail is extended to the Molonglo Valley, the transit hub is expected to service 90 per cent of the commercial core and accommodate intertown express buses.

map of transit plaza at Molonglo Town Centre

The Molonglo Town Centre transit plaza and boulevard will allow for future light rail. Image: ACT Government.

The project will also modify the existing Holborrow Avenue intersection to remove slip lanes and create a four-way signalised intersection for Holborow Avenue and the future East-West Arterial.

The East-West Arterial will need to cross the Molonglo River before connecting with the Tuggeranong Parkway north of the Cotter Road ramps.

This will relieve the pressure on John Gorton Drive, currently the only way into and out of the Molonglo Valley.

Other projects include relocating essential utilities, constructing a drainage network to divert stormwater to stormwater basins, designing street lighting, and landscaping using approved mature tree species to achieve a 30 per cent canopy cover.

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About 12,000 people have made their home in the Molonglo Valley, and the eventual population is expected to top out at 70,000. The first land release for the Town Centre is scheduled for 2024-25.

SMEC, Place Laboratory and Stuart Mackenzie Design comprise the project team that will deliver the extension.

The DA is open to comment until 25 March.

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Election year !

Linda Seaniger2:55 pm 08 Mar 24

I don’t understand the plan I can see where the pedestrian bridge is going to be over the Molonglo River, but it doesn’t show another bridge going out onto the Parkway? I’m assuming it will go off the east west trail? If so, when it intersect with the tug pathway, can we have a transport interchange so that buses going between Tuggeranong and Belconnen can pick up passengers from the Mongolo valley at this hub?
Also if tram corridor goes down, John Gordon please provide for the road to be at least two lanes of traffic in each direction because this will be a main arterial road. I don’t think you are either going to convince 90% of the population to use public transport when it’s so slow and won’t be built for another 50 years .

Even under the current timeline and future plan, light rail to Molonglo must be almost half a century away.

Put in a priority bus lane in the interim.

And provide decent frequency

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