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Ask RiotACT: Are traffic lights the answer?

By reactor - 14 October 2015 28

Ask RiotACT
Recently the ACT Government put out a flyer about road changes coming for the Gungahlin area. Amongst these was the proposal to signalise the large roundabout at the intersection of the Barton Highway, William Slim and Gundaroo Drives.
Does anyone else think that putting traffic lights on the roundabout is a half-baked solution and that the whole problem couldn’t be better solved with just some more time and money and a bit of innovative thinking?  
Shouldn’t the highway, which carries heavy vehicles, go up and over and be straight?  It is a dangerous intersection.  I wondered if there was any other way possible and practical within a reasonable cost (given the long term benefits).  
How come we can put in flyovers for the GDE (or even the tiny road leading to Sutton over the Federal – by NSW Government I guess) but not have a straight Barton Highway?

What’s Your opinion?


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28 Responses to
Ask RiotACT: Are traffic lights the answer?
Mysteryman 1:38 pm 15 Oct 15

rubaiyat said :

Felix the Cat said :

Traffic lights are a cheap “fix” by the govt just to show they are doing something, even if that something is going to make very little difference to the problem.

Traffic lights are far from a cheap fix.

They are very expensive to install and maintain, which is why there are so many roundabouts, down to those ridiculously small obstructions in the middle of suburban streets.

Overpasses are horrendously expensive by comparison. The Russell Overpass cost $30 million.

What a load of garbage. In context of the general transport expenditure and road maintenance, and the huge volumes of people that use that roundabout daily, traffic lights as proposed are absolutely a cheap fix. Even worse, is that they aren’t adequate for that intersection. A flyover is the only sensible choice.

For someone who’s all aboard the spending of what will undoubtedly be close to (or arguably more than) $1b on a light rail that will service less people daily than the intersection in question, you should be careful throwing around terms like “horrendously expensive”.

JC 12:05 pm 15 Oct 15

rubaiyat said :

Felix the Cat said :

Traffic lights are a cheap “fix” by the govt just to show they are doing something, even if that something is going to make very little difference to the problem.

Traffic lights are far from a cheap fix.

They are very expensive to install and maintain, which is why there are so many roundabouts, down to those ridiculously small obstructions in the middle of suburban streets.

Overpasses are horrendously expensive by comparison. The Russell Overpass cost $30 million.

These are the huge expenses that those who fantasise about roads, cars and freeways ignore.

Just think of the bonus though. These projects throw up huge barriers for anyone not in a car, forcing them to use cars in a vicious spiral of bad decisions.

This is one road project that really does need money spent on it to do it right and an overpass is the right thing.

That said I am surprised at the doom and gloom (well actually not really this is The Riotact after all) related to the lights. This kind of arrangement is very very common in the UK and it does actually work. Though where you would normally find them is where a motorway passes over on an overpass and the roundabout is used to distribute the side road traffic on and off the motorway. Refer to para 1. Though with an overpass the traffic volumes then wouldn’t warrant the lights in this case.

henryans 11:30 am 15 Oct 15

Answer is to provide roads that support 50,000 people living in the G, not some green social engineering light rail rubbish, where the cash can be spent improving hospitals, roads, education, homelessness and so on. Barr and Ratenbury say they are peoples leaders, but me thinks they want a green legacy more than anything

Skyring 7:50 am 15 Oct 15

This intersection should have been a flyover in the first place. The government knew the population estimates and traffic flows – after all they were approving all construction in Gungahlin, just count the noses – and it was obvious that some fairly serious roads needed to be built.

The roundabout has been a disaster from day one – except for tow truckers and panel beaters – and with increased traffic flows in both directions, traffic has become slower. Traffic lights are not going to increase the speed of traffic flows.

I just don’t understand why the government didn’t opt for the obvious solution from day one. If they were after votes – as governments usually are – then why not experiment with good planning and administration than the current schemozzle?

A bunch of traffic lights at this intersection merely reinforces my opinion that we are paying way too much – not for roads, but for government.

rubaiyat 6:15 am 15 Oct 15

Felix the Cat said :

Traffic lights are a cheap “fix” by the govt just to show they are doing something, even if that something is going to make very little difference to the problem.

Traffic lights are far from a cheap fix.

They are very expensive to install and maintain, which is why there are so many roundabouts, down to those ridiculously small obstructions in the middle of suburban streets.

Overpasses are horrendously expensive by comparison. The Russell Overpass cost $30 million.

These are the huge expenses that those who fantasise about roads, cars and freeways ignore.

Just think of the bonus though. These projects throw up huge barriers for anyone not in a car, forcing them to use cars in a vicious spiral of bad decisions.

gazket 12:19 am 15 Oct 15

the Gov announce light rail for public servants to Russell 400 million and traffic lights for the scumbags using the most dangerous roundabout in Canberra 30 million.

9 sets of traffic lights at a roundabout is just pathetic.

Holden Caulfield 10:54 pm 14 Oct 15

arescarti42 said :

The key factor here is cost – grade separated flyovers are monstrously expensive.

This comment would carry a lot more weight if we weren’t spending a 10 figure sum on a toy train.

arescarti42 8:36 pm 14 Oct 15

I wondered if there was any other way possible and practical within a reasonable cost (given the long term benefits).

The key factor here is cost – grade separated flyovers are monstrously expensive. Replacing the roundabout with a flyover would cost maybe in the order of 3-4x more than replacing it with traffic lights, probably more given it’d necessitate demolishing and reconstructing the two existing bridges over Ginninderra Creek.

These sort of investments are a balancing act of weighing costs vs benefits. Putting in traffic lights and additional lanes as proposed will make the intersection far more safe, and reduce congestion by greatly increasing throughput, at a fraction of the cost of a flyover.

It’s the sensible thing to do.

Felix the Cat 7:38 pm 14 Oct 15

Traffic lights are a cheap “fix” by the govt just to show they are doing something, even if that something is going to make very little difference to the problem.

bd84 6:08 pm 14 Oct 15

Yes, it’s another half-assed road infrastructure job of the ACT Government, like all the other road infrastructure projects in Gungahlin at the moment. Their practice is to ignore the problems for decades, then try and solve the problem in the cheapest and illogical way, when they could have fixed it years ago for a cheaper price.

Putting traffic lights in at the roundabout won’t solve the bottlenecks on the 2 lane approaches, drivers will continue to have accidents as they get frustrated and run red lights, and heavy vehicle accidents from approaching at speed and needing to turn will continue as it’s still a roundabout.

People keep voting the clowns back into government, so we will just have to put up with the circus I guess.

paservank 4:38 pm 14 Oct 15

I hate that roundabout and would love to see it improved – $30million and two years should do, judging by the Kings Avenue Overpass (https://www.nationalcapital.gov.au/index.php/past-projects/564-new-kings-avenue-parkes-way-intersection) – got any spare change?

Rollersk8r 4:21 pm 14 Oct 15

The traffic lights on the roundabout were first mentioned a good 12 months ago. I thought they were supposed to be an interim measure until they build the flyover?? I’ve seen at least one set of plans for the flyover.

And – whole separate rant – it’s ridiculous that Gundaroo Drive was ever built single lane in the first place!

rosscoact 4:08 pm 14 Oct 15

It’sw not half baked, rather it is the cheapest option that satisfices the need to improve the intersection. A flyover is about the only thing that will work without causing traffic delays both ways

miz 3:05 pm 14 Oct 15

Good luck getting a flyover: a few years ago the government squibbed at the last minute on the planned flyover off Monaro Hwy at Lanyon Drive (very busy intersection to Queanbeyan) and put in traffic lights, even though the flyover was clearly preferable/safer and had been on the cards for ages.

Be aware that the speed limit must be reduced to max 80 kph in the vicinity of traffic lights. I am not familiar with the current speed limit on that stretch of the Barton Hwy, but can attest that a reduction to 80 kmh is very frustrating when the road is actually designed for higher speeds.

Holden Caulfield 1:26 pm 14 Oct 15

Yes, it should be a flyover.

The illustrated traffic light arrangement I have seen elsewhere looks confusing and likely to be the cause of frustrating bottlenecks at peak times. Frustrated drivers don’t make clear thinking or safe drivers.

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