A growing population will see roads in the Canberra and Queanbeyan region become increasingly congested in coming years despite more take-up of public transport, according to the latest report from Infrastructure Australia.
The 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit forecasts that by 2031 the region’s population is expected to increase by 25 per cent to approximately 558,000 people, generating 27 per cent more trips and placing increasing pressure on roads and public transport.
The car will remain king, with public transport – boosted by light rail and better bus services – still only carrying four per cent of travellers, up from the current three per cent, and by 2031 it will become increasingly crowded.
The Audit predicts that the annualised cost of road congestion for the ACT and Queanbeyan will almost double from about $289 million in the 2016 Audit to $504 million in 2031, with the Molonglo-City, Queanbeyan-City and Gundaroo Drive corridors the worst-affected routes.
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The forecast takes into account major projects including light rail Stage 1, but not Stage 2 to Woden, the duplication of Ashley Drive, Aikman Drive and Gundaroo Drive, and the widening of Gungahlin Drive.
The ACT and Queanbeyan region’s key corridors are expected to carry much greater demand in 2031, causing delays for all road users.
The growth of Queanbeyan, particularly in Tralee and Googong, is expected make the Canberra Airport to Civic and Canberra Avenue corridors the worst performing in the region and contribute nearly 900 hours of total delay in each peak period.
One of the worst-performing roads in 2016, Gundaroo Drive, is set to become even more congested by 2031, despite plans for the road’s duplication. This is expected to be completed by 2021 but will only serve to attract even more road users.
In the south, employment growth in Tuggeranong is forecast to drive increased peak hour delays on the Drakeford Drive and Monaro Highway corridors, as well as the Tuggeranong Parkway as it passes the Molonglo Valley.
The Barton Highway and William Hovell Drive are also tipped to be highly congested in both directions at peak times.
But the William Slim Drive/Coulter Drive corridor should be a better drive due to duplication of a parallel section of Gungahlin Drive, which is expected to encourage drivers to take different routes, resulting in this corridor no longer appearing among the ACT and Queanbeyan region’s top 10 most delayed corridors.
The Audit predicts that motorists traveling from outer areas to inner areas can expect by 2031 to encounter congestion earlier on their morning commute and for longer on the way home.
The same goes for bus passengers as services face heightened demand, with some routes exceeding crush capacity, such as John Gorton Drive near Molonglo, Belconnen Way and some in outer Belconnen.
Buses on the Monaro Highway, Canberra Avenue (between the city and Queanbeyan), Tuggeranong Parkway and on the local road network in Gungahlin will also be more crowded.
While light rail between Gungahlin and the City will mean fewer bus travellers, a higher population in the inner north by 2031 will see Canberra Metro vehicles become increasingly crowded as they near the city.