I have battled with the ACT government to act on a question West Belconnen residents have asked for years: when will the safety of the intersection of Tillyard and Ginninderra Drives be improved with traffic lights?
This dangerous intersection is putting lives at risk. Between 2011 and 2016 more than 46 car crashes occurred, 17 causing personal injury – recently, a car crash at this intersection saw three people hospitalised, including a young person who may have sustained spinal injuries. Just two days ago, a car was T-boned at the same intersection.
This is unacceptable.
My involvement with this issue predates my service in the ACT Legislative Assembly. Having lived in Charnwood for many years, I personally witnessed the aftermath of crashes and numerous near misses. Talking with residents, I soon realised that concerns with the safety of the intersection ran deep in the community.
In May 2015, I contacted Mary Porter MLA to request that traffic safety measures be implemented. Over the next three weeks, at least three more accidents occurred. Each time, I informed Ms Porter’s office.
The response to all my emails was the same: my concerns had been forwarded to the Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Shane Rattenbury.
I never received a response from Mr Rattenbury even though the crashes continued. There were 16 in 2015, six resulting in personal injury.
Frustrated at the government’s inaction when lives were in danger, in 2016 I launched a petition asking that traffic lights be installed. My petition attracted 1,329 signatures.
One of my first official acts as a newly elected MLA was tabling the petition last year. In response, the new Transport Minister, Meegan Fitzharris, announced a feasibility study and preliminary sketch plan for the intersection.
Before this, the ACT government launched a traffic study for Tillyard Drive towards the end of 2016, however the intersection with Ginninderra Drive was notably excluded. Residents were promised an opportunity to provide feedback on proposed options in early 2017, with the final scheme to be released in mid-2017.
Earlier this year, the ACT government delivered its final scheme to households in Charnwood, Flynn and Fraser – six months late and having skipped straight over the provision for resident feedback.
The final scheme has angered the community and for good reason.
Although the study originally excluded the intersection of Tillyard and Ginninderra Drives, in answer to my questions during annual reports hearings, Roads ACT director noted “an unusually strong consensus” between the community consultation and the technical assessment: a key concern with Tillyard Drive is its intersection with Ginninderra Drive.
Subsequently, Ms Fitzharris confirmed the feasibility study had been merged with the traffic study, saying, “it has all become one and the same” and that residents did not want, “a pedestrian island here or, say, some line markings along the road.”
But that is precisely what the Labor-Greens government delivered in its final scheme: line markings, speed humps, new signage and even a pedestrian island.
What about the troublesome intersection that both community input and the engineering firm’s technical analysis identified as a priority concern? They have been marked as something “to be considered under future Capital Works programs”.
A vague promise of future consideration means nothing to us Canberrans who regularly navigate the hazards of this intersection.
What we need is a firm promise to finally make this intersection safe, with a guarantee for when the work will be completed.
If the ACT government is serious about West Belconnen residents, it will issue an assurance now that proper traffic control measures will be funded in 2018–19.
My battle continues to make that happen.