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Light rail or Monash Drive to solve Northbourne congestion?

By Max_Rockatansky - 14 April 2015 195

light rail artist impression

Should we build the first stage of Light Rail or instead build Monash Drive to solve the problem of increasing congestion along Northbourne Avenue during peak times?

The current Government plans to build light rail along Northbourne Avenue, but previous Federal and ACT Governments had planned to eventually build Monash Drive.

Monash Drive had been proposed since the 60’s for the extra traffic anticipated when the suburbs of Gungahlin were eventually built. Shown on old maps, it runs behind Watson, Hackett and Ainslie from Northbourne to the City. It was dropped from the Territory plan in 2004, and from the National Capital Authority plan in 2009.

  • Why has there been no public discussion about Monash Drive as an alternative to Light Rail stage 1?
  • What is the cost-benefit analysis for building Monash Drive, and how does this compare with building Light Rail stage 1?
  • What is the triple-bottom-line analysis (social, economic, and environmental impacts) for building Monash Drive, and how does this compare with building Light Rail stage 1?
  • Has Monash Drive ever been costed and submitted to Infrastructure Australia for a grant consideration, and would they contribute?

Before Gungahlin Drive was extended (originally proposed as John Dedman Parkway), the debate was should we build either John Dedman Parkway or Monash Drive. In the end it was decided to extend Gungahlin Drive to the Glenloch Interchange and drop Monash Drive. Past Governments could have decided to build each road when the growth of Gungahlin required, and kept Monash Dr on the future plans.

  • What is the plan to deal with the significantly increased congestion along Flemington and Northbourne during the 3-year construction phase of rail? (Section 3.1.2.3 in the Business Case provides little detail on this issue.)
  • How would this compare to the construction of Monash Drive, which would mainly be on cleared land along the east of the Inner North?

Either Monash Drive or Light Rail stage 1 might be most suitable for Canberra, but we will not know without extensive public debate. ACT Labor and ACT Greens are past the points for debate on alternatives and are well along the tracks of light rail. The ACT Liberals have opposed light rail but not proposed an alternative solution to the increasing congestion along Northbourne Avenue during peak times.

What’s Your opinion?


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195 Responses to
Light rail or Monash Drive to solve Northbourne congestion?
Masquara 9:51 pm 15 Apr 15

I think the LIberals will be voted in at the next election and today undertook to get rid of the light rail fiasco – so – Monash Drive!

JC 9:34 pm 15 Apr 15

OP Monash drive is dead and buried, and FYI it it was intended to to run from Ainslie Ave and then connect with Phillip Ave near the old waste transfer station, not go around the back of Watson. Now if it did how would it then connect into Gungahlin? Now as Phillip Ave it was then to cross Northborne and carry on along what what we know today as Flemmington Road past Mitchell. But bit hard to do this now there is a building on the alignment right on the corner. So again how do you efficiently connect into Gungahlin?

Also rather silly thing to propose seeing as there is housing along Phillip Ave and many side streets join it, so it doesn’t really make for a good high capacity bypass road does it?

As to the discussion re Monash Drive and light rail, it had been discussed since Gungahlin was first being built back in the early 90’s. How much more talk do you want? That’s the thing that really annoys the hell out of me about the light rail debate, some people talk like it is a surprise, but the bloody thing has been proposed and discussed since the very early days. I even recall a then brand new Melbourne B2 class tram sitting in Civic for a few weeks, and these things stopped production in 1994, so 21 years ago.

Now feel free to disagree with the decision and the need, but to claim lack of consultation and debate is simply factually incorrect. It has been done to death, maybe now is the time to just get on with the thing, the decision has been made, and indeed both parties in government took light rail to the electorate as policy.

rubaiyat 6:00 pm 15 Apr 15

As difficult as it is to coach people on a subject they obviously haven’t given any thought, or shown any interest in, transport planning should not be left to politicians and commercial interests.

Roads are extremely expensive, but slide past people’s bad maths and their knack for ignoring the bait and switch reality. Roads get built to choke up. Dividing cities and communities and fouling our lives with pollution and noise as well as killing and maiming a lot of people and wildlife. They get worse over time and consume ever more of our cities, countryside and resources.

Rail provides a huge capacity in very compact corridors. Rail moves people. Not 1+ tonne vehicles which consume a lot of space and cost when moving, and for the vastly greater time that they are only stored. Passengers do not need to haul the trains/trams wherever they go, any more than EVERY occupant in a high rise needs to carry a ladder with them and keep it handy just to get around.

Rail’s capacity and efficiency starts high and grows without too much change to the transport corridors. Light Rail can run more frequently or add carriages, as is already happening in America’s 2nd generation of Light Rail. Washington is in the process of extending its light rail stops to allow for 3 car light rail, and the 4 car light rail that will succeed that.

Most importantly Rail uses electricity which can be provided in most cases from local resources and does not pollute. It does not pollute the streets it runs in and can be sourced so it does not send money overseas and pollute the planet. The solar power the ACT is using is not getting more expensive over time. It is actually getting cheaper. Sunlight is free, doesn’t have to be hauled long distances and is not subject to geo-political or market forces.

When the ultimate carbon crisis bites, the cost of fixing all the problems that have been caused by people sticking their heads in the sand will be astronomical in both monetary and social consequences. We have only had a small taste of it so far. But the short sightedness of people and their politicians means they won’t remember how stupid they were, any more than they could see where that stupidity was leading them in the first place.

rubaiyat 4:54 pm 15 Apr 15

Solidarity said :

You’re right, compared to the absolute aesthetic and social triumphs that hubs such as the Bankstown Cityrail Station are.

At least you get to sample a wide variety of “culture”, I guess.

You failed to mention Bankstown Square up the road, the alternative. As nasty an example of car park/bus excrescence as you could possibly imagine. Bankstown station is a joy by comparison.

…and let’s face it, CityRail are simply another pack of incompetent idiots.

My favourite would be the Britomart station in Auckland, they really did a fantastic job of the transport nexus and living space.

Architects sidestepped the usual bureaucratic/developer stumblebums when they designed the Sydney Olympic Station showing what can be done.

Can we not aspire to something, anything!, better?

churl 4:07 pm 15 Apr 15

Bennop said :

Building Monash drive will get more traffic from gunghalin to northbourne, which will become a busier pinch point than it already is.

Not really. Monash Drive would run parallel to Northbourne down the West side of Mt Majura and Mt Ainslie, linking Federal Hwy / Gungahlin to Kings Ave and Morshead Drive at Russell. That would keep a lot of airport, Fyshwick, Parliament House, Monaro Highway etc traffic off Northbourne and out of Civic.

Solidarity 3:59 pm 15 Apr 15

You’re right, compared to the absolute aesthetic and social triumphs that hubs such as the Bankstown Cityrail Station are.

At least you get to sample a wide variety of “culture”, I guess.

MERC600 3:02 pm 15 Apr 15

rubaiyat said :

Correction:

“If we are ever forced off the oil teat” should be “WHEN we we are forced off the oil teat”.

What do you mean WHEN. There is so much oil around these days they’re actually diggin’ it out the ground.

rubaiyat 2:31 pm 15 Apr 15

Correction:

“If we are ever forced off the oil teat” should be “WHEN we we are forced off the oil teat”.

rubaiyat 2:28 pm 15 Apr 15

dungfungus said :

Weatherman said :

The style of urban construction in Canberra is derivative of design and architecture in the suburbs that originally had railways included within the various aspects that were mostly origintated from United Kingdom, and cities in Australia that already have railways, such as Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and so on. The infrastructure, such as roads were constructed many decades ago. At that time, the population may not have sustained railway patronage.

Do you mean Canberra was designed for the motor car?

Yes. With amazing imagination and forethought. “Designed” being used in its loosest sense. Something that makes a a few of the older generations of Canberra Public servants extremely happy. Professionalism, ability and real world experience all being very threatening to them.

If we are ever forced off the oil teat, we are in real trouble. Not that long distance driving in a city with such small population isn’t a problem in itself.

Weatherman is referring to the New City designs from post war Britain, which usually had a railway station at the heart of them and provided pedestrian space around those for the regular commuters. All we got was the bleak, concrete windswept pointless emptiness and uncorrected orientation, so that nearly all our urban spaces face south, exposed to the chill winter winds and lie in the shadow of taller structures to the north.

The rail stations were replaced in Canberra with extremely repulsive bus stations with their blend of noise, diesel fumes, concrete, graffitti, filth and a soupçon of imminent petty crime. All located inconveniently away from where people really want to go on a painfully slow unco-ordinated system.

The only railway station was located, with absolutely no forethought, remote from the city centre, not even convenient to the centre of the suburb where they carelessly terminated the spur line. “No one” could predict how that would turn out.

So how have the Civic Centres, Belconnens, Tuggeranongs, Gungahlins and all the minor sub centres have been such triumphs of the human spirit? Surely being surrounded by acres of parking and concrete parking stations would be enough to inspire Canberrans to live their lives to the fullest!

Bennop 2:24 pm 15 Apr 15

Building Monash drive will get more traffic from gunghalin to northbourne, which will become a busier pinch point than it already is.

Building light rail will free up/ improve traffic on both Flemington and Northbourne.

The Feds normally only contribute to major arterial style roads. I dont think Monash would be in that category.

dungfungus 1:22 pm 15 Apr 15

Weatherman said :

The style of urban construction in Canberra is derivative of design and architecture in the suburbs that originally had railways included within the various aspects that were mostly origintated from United Kingdom, and cities in Australia that already have railways, such as Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and so on. The infrastructure, such as roads were constructed many decades ago. At that time, the population may not have sustained railway patronage.

Do you mean Canberra was designed for the motor car?

Weatherman 7:47 am 15 Apr 15

The style of urban construction in Canberra is derivative of design and architecture in the suburbs that originally had railways included within the various aspects that were mostly origintated from United Kingdom, and cities in Australia that already have railways, such as Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and so on. The infrastructure, such as roads were constructed many decades ago. At that time, the population may not have sustained railway patronage.

rubaiyat 11:21 am 14 Apr 15

Monash Drive does exist if you look at Google Maps, feel free to use it.

As for its extension to a future peak hour Carpark Way:

http://the-riotact.com/monash-drive-to-be-dropped/15046

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/majura-parkway-will-worsen-traffic-around-canberra-airport-20140519-zr6ty.html

RB78 11:07 am 14 Apr 15

The Greens may have done some lobbying for its removal

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2009-10-27/nca-likely-to-scrap-monash-drive-plan/1117848?pfm=ms

Don’t underestimate the NIMBY factor either. Because after all, these people bought homes in the knowledge that a proposed road would be built behind them one day, and they reserve the right to complain about it!

DeadlySchnauzer 10:30 am 14 Apr 15

The Majura Parkway could have easily substituted for Monash drive, all it needed was off ramps connecting it to Parkes Way near the airport to allow people to head into the city.

A slightly longer trip, granted, but on 80/100km hour roads with no congestion, would have been a marked improvement from negotiating Northbourne.

Why the Majura Parkway offloads only into limestone ave will always be a mystery to me. Seems like a very silly way to do things.

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