11 October 2021

Lights coming to Coranderrk Street roundabout on Parkes Way to ease traffic from light rail construction

| Lottie Twyford
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The Gungahlin Light Rail terminal

The ACT Government says it’s committed to being upfront about the delays to the road network the light rail construction will cause. Photo: Damien Larkins.

Traffic lights will be installed at the Coranderrk Street roundabout on Parkes Way to ease the expected pressure on the road network during construction of light rail Stage 2.

According to Transport Minister Chris Steel, construction on the traffic lights will begin in the first half of 2022 and will be timed to be completed when the major work to raise London Circuit begins.

Mr Steel said the roundabout is notoriously bottle-necked already, and the traffic lights will “better regulate traffic flow and improve the capacity of the intersection”.

Aerial ,ap

The Coranderrk Street roundabout on Parkes Way. Image: Screenshot.

“This roundabout currently has a dominant west-bound flow of traffic in the morning, causing major congestion for east-bound traffic coming into the city and the Parliamentary Triangle from areas like Belconnen and Tuggeranong,” he said.

The Minister expects traffic to increase significantly once construction commences thanks to other road closures and works.

READ ALSO Audit report questions costs and benefits of Light Rail Stage 2A

Lane closures and works on Commonwealth Avenue will mean traffic has to be diverted via Kings Avenue, Tuggeranong Parkway and Monaro Highway.

With the new lights, the Minister said, 20 per cent more cars will be able to exit Parkes Way onto Coranderrk Street per hour.

The west-bound turning lanes at the roundabout will also be extended to improve storage capacity at the new lights.

ACT Government estimates suggest this will mean approximately 250 more east-bound vehicles can exit the Parkes Way onto Coranderrk Street during peak hour traffic each morning.

READ ALSO ACT Budget: New schools, light rail station in $5 billion infrastructure pipeline

Road cameras will also be installed so the intersection can be managed from the ACT’s Traffic Management Centre, allowing for the timing of the lights to be managed to optimise traffic flow.

While the National Capital Authority manages the roundabout (NCA), the ACT Government has funded the upgrades through the 2021-22 ACT Budget.

As part of the broader light rail works, the ACT Government is also planning to temporarily signalise the northern side of Vernon Circle to allow safe right-turn movements onto Constitution Avenue and London Circuit for buses and other vehicles heading northbound.

He said the Government is committed to being upfront with the community regarding the upcoming delays.

The next stage of the light rail, 2A, will take the current tracks to Commonwealth Park.

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The light rail route is based on a simple formula — go past the maximum amount of developable land that the ACT Govt can sell to its mates, create jobs for its CFMEU mates, and gain max rates and land tax from the punters forced into the little box style apartments built beside it.

And the problem with that is what exactly?

What a waste of money.

HiddenDragon9:01 pm 11 Oct 21

“fermé temporairement”…….?

Nice to see that the Entente Cordiale between the French Republic and the People’s Republic of Canberra continues, in spite of the broader unpleasantness over the subs.

I’m still peeved that a modern(ish) fuel and time saving overpass is being replaced with yet another fuel and time wasting set of traffic lights.

Has anyone considered the disabled or elderly. Getting off buses and onto light rail is not easy for everyone. Currently there are buses that go through suburbs and on to Civic. So once you are on, you can stay on for the trip.
I guess if you are old or disabled that is your problem.

Wonder how the elderly survived when to get from the suburbs to the city in the past you used to get a high floor bus (with several steps up) and then when you got to the interchange changes for a 333 which was also a high floor bus.

Anyway I am sure an elderly person who is using public transport will be able to walk the short distance to transfer from a low floor bus to a low floor tram.

I’ve always found the afternoon peak traffic when coming out of Coranderrk Street to turn right at the roundabout worse than the morning traffic coming into the roundabout.

Looks like their only addressing half the problem.

Great. More traffic lights, just what Canberra needs.

The government seems to think that traffic lights are a magic tool that fixes all of their traffic-related problems. Mr Steel and his team need to wake up and realise that Canberra’s road infrastructure has, for quite some time now, become old and outdated and is unable to handle the significant increase in traffic. They are in the mindset of “build a unit – oh, there’s a magical increase in traffic now that we didn’t expect for some reason? – just signalise all intersections around the building”. A great example of this is Woden town centre. About four intersections around the new Grand Central Towers are now being signalised, as there has been a massive increase in traffic thanks to the likes of the aforementioned construction. Oh, this must also be the government preparing to cut the R4/5 route from Woden to the city when the tram comes to Woden – I’m already beginning to prepare myself for a 25-30min tram, sorry light rail ride, rather than a 15min bus ride at 80km/h ?????.

Why would you possibly be suiprised they will cut the rapid from Woden to the City? I’m no supporter of light rail, but in what world would they build that and then still keep the existing public transit lines alongside it. In a city the size of Canberra, it would be absolute madness.

Have you bothered to look at the plans?

As for your wider rant about lights, what exactly is the alternative? Roundabouts don’t work too well when traffic volumes increase or there is a missmatch in traffic flows. Next to impossible to have flyovers on every intersection, so how else could you do it?

Not at all surprised, unfortunately. Saw it from a mile away in part due to the government doing the exact same thing once they built stage 1 of the light rail. Of course it doesn’t make sense, so that’s why they have to remove it. Can’t have commuters taking a faster, more frequent mode of transport to and from their destination while Mr Barr’s all-mighty light rail exists.

@JC – there is actually really easy solution for this particular intersection and that is for the east bound roadway to go into a short tunnel under the roundabout. The part time traffic lights are a good interim solution, but a graded interchange here is inevitable one day. In any case, the more we can make road infrastructure enticing for people to drive around the city and not through it, it will be better for everyone.

You may call that solution “easy” but if you look at the middle of the roundabout with the pond, it’s part of the major stormwater system draining to the lake.

So a tunnel would have some major challenges and a big price tag attached.

Maybe one day a tunnel will be built for the whole area but no doubt those whinging about these road works would be similarly annoyed when entire sections of Parkes Way got closed for years of construction work too.

@Chewy14 – but it is easy. Relocating that pond had been on the agenda before, so I think it’s not exactly something they haven’t thought about. In the grand scheme of things, a short tunnel there would be peanuts. We are not talking about a tunnel under the Alps… Heaps of spare land and can do simple cut and cover. I’m not saying build it now, just that it’ll need to happen at some point. Certainly if they ever end up with a city stadium (another issue).
If I have learnt anything is that people whinge regardless.

If you call a few hundred million dollars of work “easy”, then fair enough.

You can’t just “drop” a tunnel, it needs to be appropriately graded on either side to fit in with the road network and other constraints.

They looked at a bigger Parkes way tunnel years ago and it was far too expensive. And if you look at what you’re proposing, the tunnel would need to emerge on the East well before the Anzac Parade roundabout where you’ve got even more constraints.


Thehutch the other issue with your solution is the congestion is caused by traffic turning into the city. You have two opposing directions feeding traffic into one street that have little space between the roundabout and the next set of lights for vehicles to queue.

So even with a tunnel for the through traffic you will still have traffic banking up wanting to turn.

Yes, but the plan you’ve outlined is significantly larger than the single intersection east bound tunnel I’m suggesting be built… in the medium term. We would not be the first place in the world to build a road under another road and while also managing to get said tunnel connected to exisiting road. Victoria is currently going through a massive level crossing removal project, which included cutting trenches to enable rail to go under road in some places. Same theory, probably harder.
If you believe this is not possible, then I can only try and encourage a bit of can do attitude.

Sure, Anzac parade would be a constraint. But the city intersection has bigger right turn pressure. Also, based on your logic, we would still have a roundabout at Kings Avenue / Parkes Way… Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Agreed. Can only manage that through traffic light sequencing. But again, my priority is ensuring traffic around the CBD. I’m looking to improve east west flows. Traffic would build up to enter the city, traffic heading east / west would be largely unaffected.

Except traffic waiting to enter Civic will still bank back onto Parkes Way prevent through traffic anyway. Unless you plan to extend the turn lane or start your tunnel closer to the exisiting tunnel near the ANU.

The Hutch,
The problem is a tunnel for this one intersection isn’t that much smaller than the wider tunnel because of the stormwater constraints already mentioned. It would have to be deep and there’s no where to relocate those drains that doesn’t once again add a massive price increase. Once you grade back, voila, long and expensive tunnel.

And you can’t raise the road here like the Russell flyover because the NCA would never approve it because of its location and visibility.

Good idea, much harder and expensive than you’re making out.

By very the nature of this, you would end up with quite a reasonable turn lane. But no not back to ANU and I wouldn’t think it is needed (and the traffic can back up to Glenloch btw).
By spilting traffic you would remove a chunk of cars who are currently stuck in a queue who don’t need to be, which then cascades onto others. Additionally, the flow for those heading onto Commonwealth on ramp, will also be improved (probably the only benefit of raising Northbourne) further removing vehicles. I encourage you to go and look at this roundabout in morning peak (during normal times) – you will find a large amount of the back up is caused by the inefficient transfer of cars onto Commonwealth Ave and cars proceeding East through the roundabout in question. Improving this, benefits all users.

Chewy, there will always be things I don’t consider as I can only work with what I know. But as far as I know, the Government bought land some time ago to relocate that pond – so I have not factored in that as a problem, because well it seems like they will do it anyway. Ultimately at some point in the future though, whether it costs $1 or $500million, improvements to several Parkes Way intersections will be indeed. Given flyovers are unlikely, there ain’t many other options.
I’ve enjoyed our chat.

Gawd, more years of traffic disruption! Why don’t they just align the tramway straight ahead from Northbourne, make a slight cutting through the middle of the never used City Hill, then straight onto Commonwealth Avenue? It would be cheaper, quicker to build, less disruptive, and there would be no need to raise the height of London Circuit.

Don’t disagree about that route – but there is zero need in relation to the tram itself to raise the height of London Circuit anyway to begin with even with the current route – plenty of places where trams go through a vastly greater gradient then what would be needed to ramp it up gradually from london circuit towards the stop required at Commonwealth Park.

The only reason to raise London circuit is to allow the clover leaf intersection to be developed. That’s it (rightly or wrongly (I don’t have a strong view one way or the other).

They would never get NCA approval to cut through City Hill, they would have to go under through a tunnel which would then significantly increase costs for little benefit.

The path around London Circuit actually makes sense to pick up the most amount of passengers.

Although Chewy14, the London Cct route doesn’t actually achieve much in terms of picking up passengers. It’s one stop and only a block away from city hill anyway. If you’re using Light Rail to be North to South trunk transit route, the direct city hill route makes more sense, would provide quicker journeys (for both passengers and cars) and could even reduce a lane of traffic around the hill to avoid going through the hill. Government could still sell off the land and saved construction cost. Also have the side benefit of bringing more people to the hill.

You realise the traffic they are talking about being diverted to Parkes way is. It due to construction in the city, but by construction on Commonwealth Ave? So tunnelling through city hill won’t help.

The Hutch,
You don’t think the London Circuit route picks up many passengers when it’s much closer to the whole western area of office blocks and the ANU? It will also reduce the foot traffic across Northbourne that has been identified as a safety issue.

I don’t disagree that a City Hill option might be a good idea but you would have to tunnel under the hill adding a few hundred million to the price tag of a project that already doesn’t stack up economically. Taking up a lane of Vernon Circle to go around would stretch a road that already has capacity issues and is meant to be the main north/south road link.

Chewy, I’d argue a station circa city hill would be under 100 metres away from the proposed City West station, so I don’t think it would make much difference. Ultimately Vernon Circle has (was) been down to 2 lanes in parts northbound for a while due to construction and southbound merges into two lanes, so I don’t think it’d make a big difference… Also, having light rail cross the northbound lanes of Northbourne twice, is not going to help traffic. And again my general overarching view is we should be doing more to get through traffic to go around the CBD, not through it.

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