The good news for Belconnen residents is that Roads ACT has recommended the installation of traffic signals at the Tillyard Drive intersection with Ginninderra Drive. The bad news is that it doesn’t appear that it will happen any time soon.
A spokesperson for the Minister for Transport and City Services, Meegan Fitzharris, said the Roads ACT study that had identified the need for traffic lights at the intersection was being “carefully considered’ by the Government, but that a project of this scale remained subject to the annual budget process.
Instead of traffic lights, Roads ACT has proposed a set of traffic calming measures in Tillyard Drive and affected streets including lane narrowing, improved line marking, speed cushions, better signage and pedestrian refuge islands.
This has angered residents who have argued for years to have lights installed as the numbers of accidents keeps rising.
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Fraser resident Caroline Reid, who has been going through the Tillyard Drive intersection for the 25 years, took to Facebook after receiving a notice in the letterbox advising of the measures after a consultation process in which residents clearly said traffic lights were needed.
“It’s not fixing the main problem, you’re just Band-Aiding it,” she said. “If there is an identified need on safety grounds for traffic lights then it should be expedited and budgeted for.”
She said that only a few weeks ago there was a serious two-vehicle accident there which put a woman and two children in hospital.
Ms Reid said that over a month ago she wrote to Roads ACT and politicians, including the Minister, but she had not received any response.
She said the Government had managed to install lights at the Kippax intersection which wasn’t as bad as Tillyard Drive, but ‘Charnwood’s a poor area and nothing’s ever prioritised there, that would be my observation over 25 years. That area never gets attention, it’s always last on the list because of its low-income status’.
Ms Reid said local residents would continue to avoid that intersection ‘because we know better, because we have seen accidents week on week.’
“We drive on the side streets and then the residents complain they’ve got too much traffic,” she said.
Liberal MLA Elizabeth Kikkert has been campaigning for lights to be installed at the intersection for years, recently penning a piece for The RiotACT.
She called on the Government this week in the Legislative Assembly to plan for traffic safety measures in its upcoming budget and to specify when the measures will be implemented.
But Ms Fitzharris said in response to her motion that intersection improvements of this scale required specific capital funding through the budget process and that the Government could not pre-empt that by appropriating money ‘willy-nilly without going through the appropriate processes’.
Ms Fitzharris said that the original consultation on Tillyard Drive expressly did not include consideration of major intersections but acknowledged that that could have been made clearer in the consultations from Transport and City Services.
“We need to be really clear with the community that the measures taken as a result of local area traffic management studies generally include small-scale improvements,” she said.
The Minister told the Assembly that the Government was seriously looking at the intersection and she supported prioritising this particular project.
“I am in no doubt of the importance of upgrading this intersection, but I really would encourage Mrs Kikkert to listen to what has previously been discussed on this matter, to acknowledge the seriousness with which the Government is looking at this project. But I simply cannot, and I believe it would be somewhat unprecedented to agree with Mrs Kikkert’s motion, which asks the Government to pre-empt budget discussions and budget decision-making prior to the release of the 2018-19 budget in June,” she said.