1 October 2021

Molonglo River Bridge step closer with call to industry

| Ian Bushnell
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Molonglo Bridge crossing

An artist’s impression of the Molonglo Bridge crossing. The project is expected to be completed and open to traffic by the end of 2025. Photo: ACT Government.

The long-awaited Molonglo River Bridge is a step closer with the ACT Government seeking expressions of interest for the tender to design and construct the crucial piece of infrastructure to complete the arterial link between the new suburbs of the Molonglo Valley and West Belconnen.

The government says the detailed design phase is expected to commence in mid-2022 and take one year to finalise with construction commencing soon after. The project is expected to be completed and open to traffic by the end of 2025.

The bridge project will replace the single-lane Coppins Crossing, which is often closed due to flooding, and complete the 7.2 km dual carriageway John Gorton Drive from the Cotter Road in the south to William Hovell Drive in the north.

The bridge will span 227 metres across the Molonglo River but the project will also include 1.7 kilometres of roadway approaching the crossing.

The development application was approved in February.

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The EOI document says the project will include the design and construction of four traffic lanes, on-road cycle lanes, separate share paths, two new signalised intersections, road and bridge lighting, stormwater management, landscaping, landscape rehabilitation in the Molonglo River Reserve and other works.

It will also need to integrate with the planned Molonglo Group Centre, including shared path connections, bus stops, accommodation of a future light rail stop, a pedestrian underpass, a signalised intersection and tailored urban landscaping, as well as accommodating a future light rail corridor.

The project will also include the establishment of fauna habitats for native wildlife, including aquatic creatures.

Transport and City Services Minister Chris Steel said the project would create more than 500 jobs during the design and construction.

“The construction of the Molonglo River Bridge and completion of John Gorton Drive will transform the Molonglo region and better connect the northern suburbs of Molonglo including Denman Prospect and Whitlam to the rest of the Molonglo Valley,” he said.

Mr Steel said the project would provide a reliable connection for Canberrans who currently travel through Coppins Crossing to Woden and West-Belconnen.

“This is not just a bridge-building project. New arterial roadways leading up to the bridge and new intersections will be constructed, providing access to the future Molonglo Commercial Centre and the suburb of Whitlam,” he said.

“In addition to these major infrastructure upgrades, the project also includes important active travel links with off-road shared paths and on-road cycle lanes to encourage more Canberrans to jump on a bike to get to their destination.”

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Mr Steel said the bridge would also be important for public transport, supporting a future light rail connection as well as up to six new bus stops and bus priority at identified intersections.

The ACT and Commonwealth governments are jointly funding the $176.2 million project.

Senator for the ACT Zed Seselja said this project will provide a major economic stimulus to the Canberra region, including creating an estimated 560 jobs during the detailed design and construction phases.

“Projects like the Molonglo River Bridge are important to not only keep Canberrans employed and businesses running, but also to provide the Canberra community with better infrastructure connections and safer roads long into the future,” Senator Seselja said.

“The Commonwealth’s $87.5 million contribution to this vital project is part of our $1.8 billion infrastructure investment bonanza in new projects across the ACT since 2018.”

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Minister, where is the duplication of Athllon Drive up to? That duplication was an election promise in 2016 and 2020.
Oh that’s right, we got funding for a bike path along Sulwood Drive instead.

Don’t worry. It will get promised once again at the 2024 election. They might even fund yet another design plan for Athlonn Dr before then.

Linda Seaniger3:32 pm 19 Dec 21

Completed in 2025? That’s If there’s no delays. And that’s 10 years or 12 year after land In Wright and coombs was being marketed. Come on ACT government get your act together. Build the bridge just don’t talk about it.

Yes it’s time to build it. But certainly hasn’t been needed before now.

Hasn’t stopped them building the light rail before it’s needed.

I’m certain we have had this conversation before on this very thread.

But will say it again seeing how packed lightrail was when first opened (and before covid which I am sure not one person here would have predicated) then it is clear that light rail to Gungahlin was built at the appropriate time.

Now if Kate Carnell and Bob Winell had of built it when they first proposed it then would agree that would have been too early. Lucky though Carnell factored light rail in the design of the Flemmington Road extension from Mitchell to Gungahlin. Pity though they made a mess of the Gungahlin town centre design and how the main roads interact. But I digress.

Stephen Saunders10:55 am 05 Oct 21

This being a 21st century Australian city, it’s seen as perfectly normal for developers to whack in whole new suburbs and take their cut, with basic infrastructure and services only as a quaint afterthought. Until then, enjoy the 19th century causeway, folks.

Capital Retro11:33 am 05 Oct 21

Yes, their used to be a thing called “headworks” or “headworks’ contribution” as a condition of the applicant’s development approval.

You do realise that the ACT government was in control of all of this land that is being developed right? And that they are responsible for the supporting infrastructure?

Along with the fact that where they have sold parcels to private developers, the negotiations on price included what Infrastrucutre would be delivered by which parties at what times.

You’re barking up the wrong tree.

Stephen Saunders5:05 pm 05 Oct 21

Hard to decipher your point here, Chewy. Of course, government is ultimately in charge. Of course, it is ultimately they, not developers, short-changing the mug punters.

The point is clear that the government is in control of this and it has very little to do with “developers” building suburbs without basic services.

Although wouldn’t you also think that it’s a good idea to only build infrastructure like this when it’s actually needed rather than sitting idle for years?

The taxpayer funds saved on only building things when they are needed is looking after the “mug” punters, rather than short changing them.

Said it before. Government builds a 4 lane main road in Molongolo and on these very pages get canned for gold plating the suburb. Doesn’t build a bridge right up even though there is suitable crossing (and an alternative route) and they are a pack of so and so’s.

Who would want to be in government.

Oh and my personal opinion all things considered the high level road bridge isn’t required for a few years so makes sense to be doing it now rather than 2-3 years ago like many have stated.

The same reason this bridge shouldn’t have been built before now is the same reason why light rail isn’t needed yet either. The demand doesn’t require it. What the government has done here is exactly what they should do everywhere.

However, If this bridge was something “sexier” that the politicians could spout meaningless cliches about, you can bet it would have been built 10 years ago.

I think the lesson is the Government gets criticised whatever they do. What they should do then, is the correct thing.

They should have learnt from developing Gungahlin and the failure to supply adequate infrastructure as the area grows. There’s nothing wrong, indeed it would be great policy, to have infrastructure rolled out “just in time” of the need, rather than always being a few years in arrears.

Actually chewy light rail (stage 1 at least) was needed when delivered. Proof was how packed the things were not re covid of course.

But pleased to see we agree the bridge to date hasn’t been needed and that it will be delivered around the time the population can properly demand it and it can be justified.

Actually thehutch as someone who lives in Gungahlin I don’t think road infrastructure delivery has been all that bad.

Biggest issue for many things is public perception of what is and isn’t acceptable. Old time Canberra people and I am one of them remember all too well the days where the commonwealth would over invest on roads and then when those roads start to meet original design load people complain about congestion. Sure it is congested compared to before but not congested to the extent it needs extra lanes or alternatives.

One should only go to Sydney and compare like for like developments to see that what we have here isn’t really all that bad in the grand scheme of things.

Near where I live there is a residents campaign to duplicate the remainder of Horse Park drive. Whilst it would be great reality is it isn’t justified and even when the remaining suburb out here is finished it would be justifiable.

Will just have to agree to disagree @JC. I lived in Gungahlin until 2019, across 3 different suburbs and the roads always seemed to be around 3 years behind where they need to be. This is without considering other infrastructure, like schools etc. While I’m not going advocate for the return of building multi lane roads before they are needed, I think the balance is currently wrong and things are being consistently built too late.

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