The ACT may be in the middle of an infrastructure boom but the planned $150 million Molonglo River bridge to service the burgeoning new suburbs of the Molonglo Valley isn’t on the list.
The Weston Creek Community Council had called on Chief Minister Andrew Barr to fast track the project, currently in the last stage of early design and development approvals.
Council chair Tom Anderson had written to Chief Minister Andrew Barr calling for longer-term infrastructure projects to be brought forward to keep the ACT’s construction workers employed, singling out the John Gorton Drive Molonglo River Bridge Crossing Project.
”This project would link existing Molonglo suburbs with the new suburb of Whitlam and would also provide high-quality transport links between Woden, Weston Creek, Molonglo and Belconnen for many decades once completed,” Mr Anderson said.
“We see this project as an essential link to ensure all-weather access between Molonglo suburbs, as well as alternative access routes in times of high congestion or emergency.”
But Roads Minister Chris Steel, in a letter to Mr Anderson, said the ACT Government was not looking to fast track the project at this time, given its early stages and the significant amount of design work that was still required before it could progress further.
Mr Anderson said the response was disappointing and the council would continue to lobby to have this bridge built earlier than scheduled.
Mr Steel told Region Media that the final design and construction phase, once the current $3 million project is complete, would take three and a half years.
”The ACT Government is considering the timeframes for delivery of the project in the context of the broader infrastructure plan and with the risks created by COVID-19 for the timelines of major projects,” he said.
The current work drawing to a close included the delivery of technical plans and drawings of the bridge crossing and arterial road approaches, a detailed geotechnical investigation, utility authority approvals and development approvals.
Mr Steel told Mr Anderson that the government was currently considering a business case to deliver the final stage of the project.
”This will be a significant undertaking, to design and construct the bridge crossing, as well as connect arterial road approaches,” he said.
Mr Steel said the government acknowledged and accepted the benefits Mr Anderson had outlined, and underlined wider economic and social benefits, including the bridge being able to accommodate light rail, support the current public transport network and provide for active travel with designated on-road cycle paths and a shared path each side of the bridge.
”There has been considerable architectural input into the bridge design to provide an aesthetically pleasing structure which will also provide recreational connections to the Molonglo River Reserve in the future,” he said.
”Finally, the project will support the delivery of the Molonglo Town Centre, an important mixed-used commercial centre to service the Molonglo Valley and wider community.”