26 February 2008

Monaro Slowway

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This morning and most mornings now it takes me on average about 30 minutes to get from Chisholm to Fyshwick due to number the vehicles clogging the Monaro highway. The distance I travel to work is only about 15km’s which means I have an average speed of just 30km/h. The speed limit for the Monaro is 80km/h and 100km/h in parts. I can’t change my working hours as they are dictated by my employer.

My wife has also found that it is quicker to travel to Civic via Woden/Adelaide Avenue during peak times than by travelling down the Monaro Slowway.

Is it just me or are Canberra roads inadequate in coping with even a slight increase of normal peak traffic?

The ACT road planners seem to keep adding extra sets of traffic lights and reducing the speed limits on the Monaro highway which doesn’t make any sense. It is a highway, it shouldn’t have traffic lights at all, just overpasses, underpasses and merging lanes. Why do we pay car registration for inadequate roads?

Every afternoon when I go home, the traffic lights for the ACT Jail are constantly going red/green for the construction labourers that knock off after their days work which clogs up the Monaro even more. Why did they put traffic lights in and not an underpass/overpass arrangement?

Most ACT cabbies I have spoken too, seem to indicate that ACT road planning only looks 2 years ahead and not 5-10 years ahead.

Anyone know any detail or background behind the ACT road planning mentality? Things are only going to get worse unless the ACT gets some decent public transport or upgrades it’s roads to deal with peak volumes of traffic.

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LimitedNews said :

Tony Gill is the head of Roads ACT. He is from Dublin, before they got metropolitan rail. Roads and cars are all he knows.

The Christ help us if it was headed up by someone who didn’t know anything about roads, then.

It’s a bloody disgrace is what it is – the greatest single failure of self government IMO.

It’s idiotic to compare us to Sydney and Melbourne. 25 years ago we had superb roads which were more than adequate for the traffic. We had the space to build decent roads as population and traffic increased; Sydney and Melbourne had houses and buildings in the way.

Yes, competent driving and courtesy would help, but it won’t solve the problem that our roads are simply inadequately designed for the traffic volumes they need to carry.

No doubt governments would all say “but we can’t afford to fund decent roads”. Hello? Not enough money to do the job we require you to do? Raise bloody rates and taxes, idiots. And to counter the inevitable “would YOU be prepared to pay higher rates and taxes for decent services and infrastructure?” – my bloody oath I would.

It just keeps getting worse. Today, traffic coming to a standstill just after Fairbairn turn-off (coming from NSW), stop start until Fairbairn Ave turnoff, and then to a stop again before the ceremonial Duntroon entrance.

They talk about Russell roundabout locking up in a few years, well it’s doing a good job of it from the north and south already!

C_LooLoo@hotmail.com5:54 pm 02 Mar 08

It’s because the local Gov’t mis-managed the money and they are broke! plus they are cheap! They keep opening up new land for development (ie; increasing Canberra population), but not increasing the infrastructure!! Remember all this when it’s election time!

Cranky is on to something. I was musing on this the other day. Workplaces, especially at the airport, introducing a wholesale slippage of start/finish times.

Having people turn up from any time from 8am to 9.30am isn’t so great, because one reason you all come to the workplace is to work with the other workers there. What would work better is some places saying we start at 9.30, or 10am, and slip the going-home time accordingly. For the airport, it’d have to be a bit more dramatic, as when I come to work late, to be there by 9.30am, I see the Majura/Fairbairn/Pialligo crawl is still in effect, while the rest of the roads have unclogged by then.

It’s going to get horrific when they start the roadworks there.

Perhaps a concerted effort to spread the standard working hours over a wider period of the day would pay far greater dividends than adding lanes in reducing congestion.

Traffic at 6.30 – 7am on the Monaro is a breeze, as it also is post 9am.

The days of 8.30 – 4.51 for the PS are long gone. Perhaps an even greater spread of working hours could be of benefit.

Isn’t the GDE a road that wasn’t there before – i.e. it already is an extra two lanes?

And for the earlier posters who suggested merging lanes should be like a zipper – that’s fine until you get some knob jammed in it…..

Thumper: Well, I’ll take a photo sometime for you. Anyway, you’re now changing your argument. I for one am reluctant to second-guess those who do traffic for a living – if the analysis has indicated that one lane each way will do for the immediate future, then I’m all for it (because spending the money later rather than sooner saves us money). I agree that the system of providing for future expansion is a sensible and money saving option, and I’m happy that they seem to have done that.

Let us see how the traffic volumes settle down once all the roadworks are finished, and then we’ll know whether the roads needed to be wider from the start.

“We should make the lanes narrower. Road lanes in Canberra seem wide to me, in comparison to some other places. For example, if we reduced the lane size a bit, and the shoulder width a bit, the both the Parkway and Monaro could become 3 lanes in each direction.”

Great idea, we could then have multiple cycle lanes on arterial roads, which would make it much safer for me to overtake other cyclists during peak periods.

James-T-Kirk1:20 pm 29 Feb 08

If half of us drive monster trucks, we can utilise the space by driving over shorter cars.

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy12:06 pm 29 Feb 08

We should make the lanes narrower. Road lanes in Canberra seem wide to me, in comparison to some other places. For example, if we reduced the lane size a bit, and the shoulder width a bit, the both the Parkway and Monaro could become 3 lanes in each direction.

Thumper: It’s one lane each way – there’s a difference between “dual carriageway” and “more than one lane each way”. The northbound and southbound lanes are separate carriageways, with sufficient empty space between them to add an additional lane in each direction in the future without requiring any more land clearing or earthworks.

Thumper – you are discounting that the next big sattelite town in Canberra is going to be right in the middle of your trajectory into work – no more 20 min rides for you in a couple of years or so.

Speaking of which – Molongolo valley – single lane road with an intermittently closed/flooded bridge. Watch that space for a disaster we could have avoided by good planning.

Thumper: Actually, the GDE has followed exactly the same principles. Take a look around at the Gininderra Dr and Belconnen Way overpasses – the foundations and earthworks for a second carriageway bridge have been put in place. And the road itself is a dual carriageway, with sufficient space left between the northbound and southbound lanes to add a third and fourth lane in the future.

James-T-Kirk8:44 am 29 Feb 08

I agree with the lack of planning – for years, the supports for the extra bridge were sitting at the end of drakeford drive. Even though they had to do some modifications to bring them into line with this weeks road safety standard, the bulk of the effort had already been done, and it was a relatively simple matter of adding the bridge spans.

Remember the telephone exchange, built in the 1970’s, and used in the late 80’s. It sat in what is now the Tuggeranong town centre waiting – I bet Telecom were happy that they spent the money when it was cheap….

But, the current government simply doesn’t plan – They might look to next election year, but they don’t do 10 and 20 year forward infrastructure plans.


James-T-Kirk8:26 am 29 Feb 08

News just in – I left home this morning at 7.07am and arrived at my office at 7.28am – And I used the Monaro Highway.

Wow – on the whole, everybody was being good, and sticking in the left lane, and those who were asleep at the wheel allowed enough space around them, so I could simply overtake at 140+ Km/h in the left hand lane, before they could even react.

Passing Hume, I left the customary line of rubber just before the dumb arse speed camera. It was so satisfying.

Then, on past the new prison, still, everybody being good in the left lane. Even past Fyshwick, it was all good.

Coming around the big roundabout, there was *no* traffic, so it was a simple case of dropping it from 5th down to 3rd, and flooring it, around what was, effectively, a sweeping left hand bend. Then it was through the defence precinct – Nobody asleep in the middle of a crossing – all good.

I was pleasantly surprised, but will admit that the wait for the coffee shop was cold, as they hadn’t opened yet. Damm we need more consistiency in this town.

el ......TECortina 250 Deathtrap9:01 pm 28 Feb 08

I’d bus it to work if the 20 minute drive didn’t take 55 minutes by bus.

Perhaps what Canberra needs is a good old pandemic? How about a good ole dose of Bird Flu in Richardson?

Meh I guess they all don’t work anyhow so it wouldn’t make much difference to the amount of traffic. 😛

Have experienced Park N Rides in other cities. Good idea but… all those unattended cars with owners not coming to get them for hours. Little shits who break into cars love these places. Patrolled parks cost, and you already know if it was left up to the assembly which option they would take if they couldn’t make obscene amounts of money out of it.

It would help though. In Melbourne people who work centrally drive to the train station. They could drop kids off close to home and then do that.

More Park N Rides would be a good thing. Action is just not set up to get people from outer areas anywhere but their closest interchange. If they had cheap Park N Ride options at Woden and Tuggers people might bus from there to civic.

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy11:26 am 28 Feb 08

You’re still going to have the problem of people having to take multiple trips to get to work. This takes time. Also, for people who drop children to school or care on the way to and from work, it just doesn’t work.

Sure enough. Canberra isn’t Melbourne or Sydney. And, thank god for a number of reasons. And, be angry at god for the other reasons of benefit.

The traffic in the mornings is a pain in the arse. ACTION buses are not exactly what one wants. So what does one do if they need to go from the far north to the south, or south to the far north…They flicking live with the shitty bus time tables and general actuality of the situation. Most people drive, due to he crappy bus time tables. Why can’t we all bus or train it more?

Seems to me that Canberra has got enough people to piss off the drivers in the morn/eve peak times on certain roads, yet has not enough people to fill the public transport through non peak times.

Bring on the light-rail through the “Inter-town Routes”! Larger carriages than the normal buses, so that people can even get a seat. Get people out of there!

I do think Canberra is overdue for an Inter-town Light-Rail Link, however. Being the ultimate leaders in technology that we are…

Banks to Civic, peak hour, door to door in a car, about an hour. By bus, about the same. Bus wins, because I can’t read a book in the car…

People live here because they don’t want Sydney or Melbourne traffic (well that’s one reason).

Luckily, I travel south on the Monaro in the morning and North in the evening… I pity the people crawling north in the morning, the line is often at a stand still all the way up the hill to the south of the Isabella Drive roundabout when I turn off the Monaro.

Unfortunately I’m pretty much forced to drive to work… there is no direct bus service from Queanbeyan to Tuggeranong. If I were to catch a bus to Woden and another to Tuggeranong, I’d be paying around $14 per day to do a trip that is 20km by car.

Drive from Banks to Phillip for an 8.30 start = 20 mins (despite the bottle necked tharwa drive near lanyon shops)

Ride my bike from Banks to Phillip for an 8.30 start = 55 mins (only done it once so I’m betting that’ll get quicker once my love handles are gone)

Ride an (in)ACTION bus from Banks to Phillip for an 8.30 start = 55 mins (what’s the point in that?)

All the more reason why we should be working towards NOT making Canberra get like that.

For all those feeling down it is all relative. Got to Melbourne or Sydney and travel in peak traffic for a week. You will come back so refreshed and not notice Canberra traffic.


Leaving at 8:20am, takes me 20minutes from Tuggeranong to Barton up Monaro, 35minutes on a rainy day. It’s not quick, especially when trucks merge from Hume and Mugga Lane during peak.

I spose nothing is worse than the “Gridlock Interchange”.

Get real!!! At 8am It takes an hour to get from Banks to Civic through the GDE mess. If you are going to Barton or Russell from the valley, the Monaro is the only logical way. Don’t tell me to leave earlier as I’m already leaving 40 minutes before I used to to cope with this damn traffic.

I don’t know where you people are getting half-hour travel times from – for the last month, it’s been taking me nearly an hour to get from Kambah to Brindabella Business Park (via the parkway).

It sucks balls that sans traffic, this is a 15-minute drive. I want that hour and a half of my day back, thanks.

I think if I implement a couple of rules for Tuggeranong Monaro Hwy drivers, things should go a bit smoother from now on..

1. If your from calwell/gordon/theodore/banks/conder/isabella, dont’ drive on the monaro to work plz. Use the parkway. It clogs it up for people from Chisholm. Thx.
2. If your not gonna go over the speed limit, stick to the left lane. The right lane is for people trying to get to their destination quicker than you.
3. If I put my indicator on, get out of the way please or I’m just gonna pull in anyway and probably hit your shiny car.

Anyone know any detail or background behind the ACT road planning mentality?

Tony Gill is the head of Roads ACT. He is from Dublin, before they got metropolitan rail. Roads and cars are all he knows.

Things are only going to get worse unless the ACT gets some decent public transport or upgrades it’s roads to deal with peak volumes of traffic.

Well said. You didn’t even mention Peak Oil. I can just see it – hundreds of Canberra drivers turning off their engines in peak hour traffic just to save petrol.

VYBerlinaV8 the_one_they_all_copy12:35 pm 27 Feb 08

There’s a few simple things we can all do to make things much easier:
1) Merging – one from the left, one from the right, one from the left, one from the right… get the picture. And when it’s your turn to go… go – don’t jerk around indecisively, just merge in and get going.
2) If you need to turn or exit left, get in the left lane a kilometre or two ahead of the turn. DON’T drive in the right hand lane until the last possible second, then drive across two lanes to get into the exit.
3) Speed limits are there to be driven to – even when speed cameras are around. This means that if it says “80”, try to drive at 80 – not 60, 70 or 90.
4) When someone indicates to change lanes in front of you, this isn’t a signal to speed up so that person can’t get in – relax the right foot momentarily. As with merging, when someone gives you the space – take it and go – don’t jerk around halfway between lanes for a halk a kilometre.

A bit of courtesy actually goes a long way, and keeps the traffic moving.

It’s since Xmas, too. After people came back, around late January, suddenly the traffic from Qbn was in crawl/stop mode from the Yass Road!

That’s when it suddenly got awful going from Civic to Fyshwick via the Monaro Highway, too. Around the 20th of January traffic suddenly tripled, if not quadrupled, over one weekend. Far more than had been using the road the end of the previous year, which is a bit strange to me. Somehow it keeps getting worse with every passing week, with traffic regularly backing up past Duntroon’s RMC roundabout, all the way from the airport. Even in the turning lane to the Monaro Highway…

I imagine the addition of the roundabout outside the art gallery- blocking one of the few routes from Civic to Fyshwick- has certainly caused a lot of the traffic. Come March 14th or so (I really hope they’re on schedule) and people like me start going via Kingston again, traffic should ease a little…

Qbn survivor11:44 am 27 Feb 08

I agree with a lot of the comments on here, but there is one thing I would like to point out. If Canberra drivers were courteous and competent and were able to:
1) Merge lanes properly;
2) Not tailgate;
3) Not speed up in the right hand lane when someone is trying to overtake someone in the left hand lane; and
4) Not sit in the right hand lane at 10km below the speed limit while not overtaking anyone,
I think a lot of Canberra’s traffic woes would be eased.

I was travelling along the Monaro at 7am this morning, and this is what I encountered:

– Traffic jam just south of Mugga Lane traffic lights heading north on Monaro. Cause? Approximately twenty cars across two lanes trying to merge, but pig-headed drivers in each lane were not allowing cars in the other lane to merge in front of them. Think of a zipper people!
– Line of cars in right lane near the speed cameras heading northbound overtaking a somewhat slow car travelling approx. 60km an hour. I was unable to move into the right hand lane until well past the Qbn/Jerra turnoff, despite having my indicator on since the speed camera. Main culprit? Gentleman in a Commodore sitting in the lane beside me without speeding up or slowing down to let me in.
– Finally get into the right lane (after having to speed up to undertake the Commodore) only to be stuck at 10km below the speed limit until the Hindmarsh Drive overpass. A woman in an Astra was sitting in the right hand lane, I was unable to move into the left hand lane and ended up having to pull in closer than I’d like in front of another car, because I nearly missed my turnoff.

All of this occurred out of peak time with much fewer cars on the road, so I pity the poor buggers who have no choice but to face peak hour.

Sometimes I think Canberra drivers should be made to do a driving test in Sydney or a metropolitan city. Then they may have no other choice than to learn basic driving skills.

Sorry for the long post, but I figured it was better to qualify my comments with my own experiences.

Hume Highway has just one set of lights between Sydney and Melbourne.

Monaro Highway should be 6 lanes and 100 the whole way. These 80zones are so silly, especially the one near the jail, next they’ll be putting a 40zone their like around schools incase the prissoner want to cross the road 🙂 Perhaps they should actually do that at Quamby too.

Limestone Ave is usually a 2nd gear only crawl to work.

The depressing thing about Canberra traffic is that it is getting worse by the month virtually, yet there seem to be no plans for any decent or longsighted improvements.

By the time Canberra reaches the size of Brisbane, traffic here will be far worse than it is there.

I think alot more tuggeranong people have recently started using the monaro rather than the parkway or going through woden. I wish they would p1ss off. The 4 lanes going into 2 near rose cottage is a major problem…

Another note….this morning on the way to work, there was a road construction grader doing 40km/h in the left hand lane of the Monaro where the speed limit is 100km/h. As a result the left lane was completely blocked with traffic trying to get into the right lane to overtake which turned the Monaro into one lane. What fool decided that it was a good idea to move the construction vehicle during peak hour traffic?

Neanderthalsis, I am only travelling about 15km’s and I live in Canberra. If I lived in Sydney or Melbourne I’d expect the traffic to be unbearable. 30 minutes to get to work isn’t outrageous but in terms of distance it seems to highlight that Canberra has some problems with it’s roads during peak times. I’m just trying to gauge whether it is a general Canberra problem or it’s only related to the Monaro.

gun street girl10:40 am 27 Feb 08

Neanderthalis – I’m always amazed that people bring that argument up whenever somebody complains about Canberra roads/traffic/lack of public transport. Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are large cities with large populations. Canberra is an oversized country town – there is no comparison. We simply shouldn’t have the same delays you encounter when you live in a big centre.

do you think the red light camera’s on the road has slowed things down? People generally travel 10km/h slower when the camera is there, plus they slam on their brakes.

As for cycling though, it’s good to do, but is it really a healthy choice? Remember, the air you’re breathing while riding is just exhaust fumes.

I guess traffic volume analysis showed that the second carriageway won’t be needed yet (notice that as part of the project, Caswell Drive is being upgraded to dual carriageway, so clearly there is some analysis going on).

I usually carpool from Gungahlin to Braddon going via the Barton Hwy, but the past couple of mornings I have driven into Civic myself and taken the GDE. Even at 7:30am it is backed up to the start of the on-ramp to the extention. It does clear up a bit after some traffic gets off at the Ginnenderra Dr exit, but it’s barely 40kms an hour up to that point. Quite short sighted not to build it dual-carriageway from the start I think.

RuffnReady/ant: If you look carefully, you’ll notice that the earthworks and bridge foundations are already in place for a second carriageway on the new bits of Gungahlin Drive. So it’s been prepared to add the second carriageway quickly and easily, when its required. I guess traffic volume analysis showed that the second carriageway won’t be needed yet (notice that as part of the project, Caswell Drive is being upgraded to dual carriageway, so clearly there is some analysis going on).

And the Fairbairn Avenue thing is because the NCA said it had to be one lane each way. This has been mentioned here many times in the past.

neanderthalsis9:23 am 27 Feb 08

I’m always amazed at people whining about a 30 min trip to work. Yes I know that many of Canberras major roads are a mess and public transport is a joke, but try living in Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne and getting from the outer ‘burbs to the CBD in 30 mins.

Car pooling would be ideal, however in the real world it isn’t practical for most people unless you spend your work day chained to your desk.

Canberra seems to be designed for cars and not much else. Decent ACT public transport would help. Light rail? Decent bus services?

Is there any long-term vision of what Canberra’s mass transit system will be? A piss poor bus service doesn’t count as mass transit.

West_Kambah_4eva9:14 am 27 Feb 08

aaah, Gungahlin Drive extension, one lane each way. fucking genius.

thanks for ruining driving conditions around civic and glenlock for, uhh, A WHOLE FRIGGIN YEAR to make a pathetic backstreet through some trees to ngunnawal or whatever ass-backwards new suburb in south sydney they’ve created now.

Imagine if everyone in a 5-seater car carried more than one person!

We don’t need more roads, we just need to recognise the limitations of our choices.

I’ve long been asking why traffic lights keep popping up on major arterial roads. The ACT Jail, the new Epicentre at Fyshwick, Harman, they are all lights that have been installed in the last 3 or 4 years, and they all slow down traffic on major routes.

The Monaro, Parkway and other major roads should have proper exits, not lights.

Dual lanes are also needed in many places now…

I totally agree with the comment about riding to work. The trouble is there isn’t a decent bike path. I am forever seeing bike riders on the side of Monaro fixing flats, no doubt due to the amount of random debris on the road.

Only putting traffic lights might be cheaper for the Government. However it’s the road user/taxpayer that ends up paying in:

a) Lost time and productivity
b) Wasted fuel

So instead of the Government spending road users/taxpayers money on fixing roads, they expect road users to indirectly pay for the privilege of driving on inadequate roads.

> Why did they put traffic lights in and not an underpass/overpass arrangement?

Traffic lights are a lot cheaper.

Ah ha! The Fairbairn Beautification Project.

Originally, it WAS to make Fairbairn 2 lanes each way. And funds were allocated, and tenders were sought.

And then, while work was proceeding and trees were being slaughtered, all of a sudden, suddenly, the road was to be 1 lane.

As it had been, before the multi-million-dollar project was approved.

What happened? Someone knows! If we had a functioning local media, instead of a press-release-publishing-service, maybe we’d all know by now.

As it is, something very weird happened, and they got away with it.


I ride most places but the attitude of some Canberra drivers towards cyclists is appalling. I obey the road rules and do everything in my power to get out of the way of cars, and yet I still cop verbal abuse from nowhere and have had two cars swerve towards me coming from the opposite direction! What the hell is that about???

Agreed about Canberra road planning, it seems very short-term focussed.

Two more examples:
1. why the hell is the Gungahlin Drive extension ONE LANE each way??? What an absurdity when there was more than enough room to make it duel carriageway.
2. why wasn’t the Fairbairn Ave redevelopment duel carriageway? Majura Rd and Pialligo Ave also should be duel carriageway. The roads around the airport are a mess and should be dealt with immediately.

Same coming in from the East. It’s since Xmas, too. After people came back, around late January, suddenly the traffic from Qbn was in crawl/stop mode from the Yass Road! Usually it didn’t do that until we hit the airport, but now it was as you came under the railway underpass. It appears to be caused by a massive increase in cars entering the road from Oaks Estate Road, and they are pretty aggressive and force their way on, cars slow to let them, and since the volume coming from Qbn and Sutton Road is heavy, it builds down the road. So it’s 2nd gear and stopping all the way to the airport, which is then a mobile carpark. And again near Russell, as that roundabout fails (trucks make it 3 times worse). Back into 4th gear on King’s Ave!

I’ve never seen it this bad. I’ve tried coming in early, but it doens’t work. Only thing that does work is hitting town around 9am, when it’s gone.

But the poor buggers coming off Majura/fairbairn bound for the airport are still crawling.

I agree. Some of Canberra’s are getting ridiculous.

Ride. You’ll do it in the same 30 mins and you’ll feel sooooo much better for it

It is a highway, it shouldn’t have traffic lights at all, just overpasses, underpasses and merging lanes.

Nope. You’re thinking of a freeway/parkway. I suggest you take a look at the Hume and Pacific Highways in Sydney, or the Burwood Highway in Melbourne, just for starters.

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