Where the crunch points will be on the region’s roads

Ian Bushnell 13 August 2019 11

Bumper to bumper: The outlook is for longer and slower commutes as the region’s population continues to grow. File photo.

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.

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.


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11 Responses to Where the crunch points will be on the region’s roads
Peter Marshall Peter Marshall 11:55 am 15 Aug 19

Ah yes, the Ponzi Scheme of economic growth through population growth...

Marko Lehikoinen Marko Lehikoinen 5:50 am 15 Aug 19

De add ign is the major problem here. So many slip lanes merging into traffic lights and off ramps are causing cars on multi-lane roads to stop bc one person is trying to cross them in all of a few hundred metres. City roundabout onto Commonwealth Avenue bridge is a classic. Remove that option and Parkes Way will flow smoother.

Jeff Smith Jeff Smith 1:15 pm 14 Aug 19

Surely there's a better way to integrate cars with public transport 'park and rides' to address this future congestion issue. Here's a wacky suggestion from Mr Obvious. Why don't Action buses actually use the Tuggeranong Parkway and Monaro highway like tens of thousands of cars do each day to get to Civic? Instead of diverting all over the shop through Weston Creek, Woden, South Canberra on their slow meander to the City?

Alex Satrapa Alex Satrapa 7:23 am 14 Aug 19

The congestion on the Drakeford/Tuggers/Parkes corridor is entirely due to commuters trying to exit onto Edinburgh Avenue and Coranderrk Street. There's simply not enough capacity for the traffic travelling to Civic to get off Parkes Way.

It seems to me that there's a prime opportunity here for Transport Canberra to add a Light Rail station to Mitchell and establish a park-and-ride facility nearby. This would allow travellers from Tuggeranong to continue up Tuggeranong Parkway onto GDE, park at Mitchell, then catch the tram back into Civic. It's a little back-to-front but guaranteed the extra travel time will actually be less frustrating than sitting in the parking lot on Parkes Way.

Another option is to convert the parking lot between the police station and Lakeside/QT/whatever-its-called-this-year into a high capacity multi storey lot with an entry at the lights on Edinburgh Avenue and peak hour priority on all the traffic signals between Parkes Way and that carpark. Then provide a shuttle bus to take travellers from that carpark all around London Circuit and another that travels up to Moore Street / Lonsdale street. I'm sure we'll figure out where people are going by watching cars exiting onto Edinburgh Avenue and travelling on other roads like Marcus Clarke, Northbourne, etc.

Similar for the carpark near the pool on Constitution Avenue/Coranderrk Street or opposite the CIT.

These projects could also incorporate facilities to service taxis, eg: a designated driveway for pickup/dropoff, a short stay electric car charging rank, hand car wash/detailing, etc.

So one park-and-shuttle station in Mitchell, another at Constitution Avenue/Coranderrk Street, and the peak hour congestion on Parkes Way will disappear.

For the braver travellers, there's the option of parking at Yarramundi Reach (opposite the Arboretum) and riding their bicycle into Civic from there. The parking is free, the exercise is worthwhile, and the gradients are generally forgiving.

I'd also explore methods the Government could use to encourage staggered work hours, but I don't see that happening any time soon since employers are busy trying to screw workers, not make life easier for them.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 6:50 pm 15 Aug 19

    Alex Satrapa a park and ride is planned near the Well Station drive stop. One of the reasons the stop is on the Mitchell side of Well Station Drive rather than the side with the houses. This was in the last budget.

    In the meantime, now the construction depot is gone you can park and ride at EPIC.

letterboxfrog letterboxfrog 10:52 pm 13 Aug 19

Queanbeyan, Googong and Jerrabomberra need integration into the Transport Canberra network if there is to be any hope of increasing PT usage. The current $16 return from Queanbeyan CBD to Civic is not productive at encouraging commuters to use the buses.

Peter Mackay Peter Mackay 6:34 pm 13 Aug 19

Twelve years?

Given the current rate of progress on self-driving vehicles and TAAS, you may throw these predictions into landfill.

Who is going to waste money and space and time on owning a car by then?

    Neil Chandler Neil Chandler 10:18 pm 13 Aug 19

    Peter Mackay let's hope that is the case for daily commuting, but when it comes to weekend road trips with no particular destination in mind, i hope i will still own my car! I love driving on the highway or exploring the tiny towns and back roads. Trading something that brings me joy for automated blandness sounds like a dystopian future to me!

    Peter Mackay Peter Mackay 2:21 am 14 Aug 19

    Well, I love driving, too. But I am sure that car rental places will still operate. And vintage vehicles will always have their fans.

    To own a car, you’ve got to have space to store it for the 95% of the time it is sitting idle. And keep it filled with fuel, and registered, and maintained, and clean. And insured, and paid for, not to mention your own driving license fees and the odd fine and constant drain of parking charges.

    If someone can offer you rides in the city in private transport for a dollar a shot, or even for free if you use their free wifi, well, why wouldn’t you?

Jeffrey Brown Jeffrey Brown 6:10 pm 13 Aug 19

And a common suggested solution..... "Add more buses, widen the roads, sdd more lanes, build more hospitals.....Say no to trams and white elephants" 🤦‍♂️

ChrisinTurner ChrisinTurner 5:35 pm 13 Aug 19

Move people not cars.

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