Years of traffic chaos on the way as light rail construction nears

Ian Bushnell 21 July 2021 95
Light rail render

The first major works will be the raising of London Circuit to meet Commonwealth Avenue, as seen here in this artist’s impression. Image: ACT Government.

Commuters have been warned to prepare for years of disruption on the southern gateway to the city as work ramps up on building light rail to Woden.

The ACT Government says they face years of lane closures on Commonwealth Avenue and traffic diversions to other main roads such as Parkes Way and Kings Avenue.

It says constructing the first leg of the light rail extension to Commonwealth Park via City West will disrupt traffic to and in the city centre for up to four years, with the first major works to get underway from the second quarter of next year.


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Commonwealth Avenue, which carries 55,000 vehicles a day, may only carry about a fifth of the normal peak volumes, dropping from 5,200 vehicles per hour to as low as 1,100 vehicles per hour.

Kings Avenue could carry more than 20 per cent more traffic in the morning and afternoon peaks, while Parkes Way between Kings Avenue and the City could be up more than 45 per cent in the morning and almost 60 per cent in the afternoon.

But the government would like to see as many people as possible use the extra buses that will be on call or change their travel times to thin out the number of people using the roads during peak times.

Light rail map

Map of light rail road closures. Image: ACT Government.

Transport and City Services Minister Chris Steel has formed a Disruption Taskforce to manage the traffic upheaval, bringing together expertise from across government in road and public transport network planning, behaviour change, community engagement and communications to plan for the multi-year build.

The Taskforce will look at infrastructure improvements to support traffic flow such as intersection and road improvements, encouraging changes in routes and travel times to spread peak congestion and providing more public transport and active travel options, including more bus services on relevant routes.

Mr Steel said commuters would be advised almost daily of the best travel routes and times through digital channels and on-road, real-time variable message boards.

“Construction at the southern end of the CBD will mainly impact those coming from the southside into the City, but there will be flow-on impacts across the road network,” Mr Steel said.

For example, traffic on the Monaro Highway may increase 46 per cent during the morning peak.

Mr Steel said he had written to major employers such as the Commonwealth departments in the Parliamentary Triangle about flexible working hours and later starting times to help minimise the number of vehicles on the road during the morning and afternoon peaks.

Canberrans can also expect an update to the bus timetable to accommodate route changes and extra services.


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The first major works of the next stage of light rail involve raising London Circuit to provide an at-grade intersection with Commonwealth Avenue, but minor works are expected to commence in a few weeks and the first site compounds will be installed next month.

Raising London Circuit will involve the demolition of the cloverleaf ramps and overpasses and result in road closures, including London Circuit.

Mr Steel has ruled out compensation for businesses affected along the route but said the government would be working with them to minimise disruption and help them navigate the construction period.

He said the government was committed to getting on with light rail, which was necessary to avoid even worse congestion in the years to come as Canberra grows.

“The whole reason we’re building light rail is to try to bust congestion and provide a more sustainable and better-connected city so that we don’t grow into a city like Melbourne and Sydney that have significant congestion problems,” he told the ABC.

The government will provide more details about its traffic disruption alleviation measures over the coming months.

A map of future works and road closures is available on the Light rail to Woden website.

Stage 2B to Woden through the Parliamentary Triangle is still working its way through the multi-level approvals process.


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95 Responses to Years of traffic chaos on the way as light rail construction nears
Bill Gemmell Bill Gemmell 4:44 pm 21 Jul 21

Firstly, I would like to know what they are actually planning to do. Secondly, why are they only discussing 4 years when there will be a decade of disruption? And before anyone sees this as an anti tram post, it isn't. Just a post from a bloke who wants certainty.

    Jude May Jude May 4:56 pm 21 Jul 21

    Bill Gemmell Where do you see a decade of disruption for light rail 2B coming from?

    Bill Gemmell Bill Gemmell 5:01 pm 21 Jul 21

    Jude May this first 4 years seems to refer to stage 2a. I added 6 years for stage 2b plus the subsequent apartments.

Yvon Nemchinov Yvon Nemchinov 4:30 pm 21 Jul 21

Where are all the people demanding politicians execute the will of the majority on this?

    John Hamilton John Hamilton 9:37 pm 21 Jul 21

    ACT voted on this matter 9 months ago. If there was a clear majority against the light rail then, they would've voted for other parties

Mark Whithear Mark Whithear 4:15 pm 21 Jul 21

4 years ! At least when it’s finished we can endure impossible traffic delays and 40km zones for the rest of our lives 😌

John Kerry Tozer John Kerry Tozer 4:03 pm 21 Jul 21

Do you think you could let us know how you are going to get this thing across the Lake any time soon?

Valerie Foster Valerie Foster 3:40 pm 21 Jul 21

Definitely not needed.

Ian_Red Ian_Red 3:20 pm 21 Jul 21

I know ACT Govt says they have a mandate, but not about the details. Underground station at city hill (going underground between the Sydney & Melbourne buildings). Straight on to Woden. In the long term a much better route for city commuters…

    Heavs Heavs 4:48 pm 23 Jul 21

    Definitely cheaper and less chaos to tunnel through rock. Good thinking.

Clare Hyden Clare Hyden 3:20 pm 21 Jul 21

Oh I hope it doesn’t start before the next election…

    Warwick Bradly Warwick Bradly 3:31 pm 21 Jul 21

    Clare Hyden the trouble is lots of people hate the tram, but they hate the ACT libs even more!

    Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 7:21 pm 21 Jul 21

    Warwick Bradly yeah but it looks as though that sentiment is changing as has the CBR Libs

Tracy Hancock Tracy Hancock 3:08 pm 21 Jul 21

I answered a survey around a year ago about how much I hate the tram. Then I won a google home mini for my time in answering the survey. It's like being rewarded for hating the tram! 😂

Russell Williams Russell Williams 3:01 pm 21 Jul 21

Yep....And my rates have just gone up again to help pay for it

    Guy Noble Guy Noble 3:08 pm 21 Jul 21

    Russell Williams your house value has also if your anywhere near the tram line.... Mawson, Torrens, Farrer, Wanniassa

    Alex Thomson Alex Thomson 6:54 pm 21 Jul 21

    Yeah, I'm sure that had nothing to do with stamp duty decreases

Mark Newman Mark Newman 2:36 pm 21 Jul 21

Chris Steele isn’t qualified to be transport minister! He hasn’t got the experience to make key decisions to Canberra’s road network which is evident throughout his term bending over for his boss and the greens at the expense of Canberra motorists!

    Margus von Tihemetsa Margus von Tihemetsa 6:06 pm 21 Jul 21

    Mark Newman if the light rail gets cars off the road, there will be more room for motorists like yourself

    Louis Sotiropoulos Louis Sotiropoulos 7:17 pm 21 Jul 21

    Margus von Tihemetsa interesting to see how many cars it has taken off the road so far. Doesn't seem like many at all

    Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 7:20 pm 21 Jul 21

    Margus von Tihemetsa but it hasn’t done that on the north side.

    John Hamilton John Hamilton 9:35 pm 21 Jul 21

    Margus von Tihemetsa northbourne and flemington both run a lot smoother now than they did before light rail construction

nobody nobody 2:25 pm 21 Jul 21

The route should be straight from Northbourne Avenue, through the middle of City Hill, then straight onto Commonwealth Avenue. This would be less fuss, disruption, cost, construction time, and less congestion once the trams are up and running.

Someonesmother Someonesmother 1:41 pm 21 Jul 21

Yeah, No. People are not going to stagger their working hours to suit some random thought bubble that gov decided was a good idea. It will 55k cars every day no change. So ACT Gov better find another way of making this work. Glad I don’t work in civic, but it is starting in Woden too and it is already a dog’s breakfast there, so this should make for some road rage to the power of a million. Only developers like geocon really want the light rail but now everyone has to suffer.

Ivan M Peric Ivan M Peric 1:27 pm 21 Jul 21

Good bye deakin ovals

    Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 1:46 pm 21 Jul 21

    Ivan M Peric yep I can see them eyeing them off for a quick sale

    Daniel Duncan Daniel Duncan 1:46 pm 21 Jul 21

    Ivan what's happening to the ovals?

    Rosalind Turner Rosalind Turner 1:48 pm 21 Jul 21

    Ivan M Peric prime real estate for more disgusting unit blocks.

    Ivan M Peric Ivan M Peric 2:14 pm 21 Jul 21

    Marc Edwards 100% planned for year. Land hijacked from

    The community.

    Ivan M Peric Ivan M Peric 2:14 pm 21 Jul 21

    Elroy Jones will see. I hope you’re right

    Ivan M Peric Ivan M Peric 2:19 pm 21 Jul 21

    Elroy Jones so you already know.

    Ivan M Peric Ivan M Peric 2:22 pm 21 Jul 21

    Elroy Jones nothing wrong with chucking in you’re 2c

    Stan Dukic Stan Dukic 2:33 pm 21 Jul 21

    Elroy Jones

    Deakin oval is privately owned by 7 individuals

    The concessional lease has been lifted off the oval

    So why would you say nothing will happen to deakin oval ??

    Mikey Moore Mikey Moore 3:16 pm 21 Jul 21

    Ivan M Peric deakin ovals are zoned PRZ1 urban open space which prohibits residential use

    Warwick Bradly Warwick Bradly 3:29 pm 21 Jul 21

    Mikey Moore until land use is changed.

    Ivan M Peric Ivan M Peric 3:59 pm 21 Jul 21

    Mikey Moore that’s easy fixed $$$$$

Daniel Oyston Daniel Oyston 1:25 pm 21 Jul 21

"But the government would like to see as many people as possible use the extra buses that will be on call or change their travel times to thin out the number of people using the roads during peak times." Stop it. Have you met Canberrans?

Damien Cummings Damien Cummings 1:24 pm 21 Jul 21

All this for a little red Lego train

privatepublic privatepublic 1:18 pm 21 Jul 21

A big ask of business and government to stagger working hours. LT may be important to some, however other business takes precedence.

Margus von Tihemetsa Margus von Tihemetsa 12:46 pm 21 Jul 21

Short term pain for long term gain

    Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 1:16 pm 21 Jul 21

    Margus von Tihemetsa what gain, dedicated bus lanes would achieve more without destroying the city

    Daniel Duncan Daniel Duncan 1:43 pm 21 Jul 21

    Marc you live in Tuggers don't you?

    Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 1:47 pm 21 Jul 21

    Daniel Duncan what would that have to do with anything?

    Daniel Duncan Daniel Duncan 1:52 pm 21 Jul 21

    Marc most of the complaints about the LR comes from Tuggers cos they didn't get it first. But make it sound like its all about the $.

    Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 2:00 pm 21 Jul 21

    Daniel Duncan it is all about dollars, it’s been proven that trackless trams will achieve the same outcome, and about a 1/4 of the cost, moving the same amount of passengers. And can also deviate off the route when needed.

    Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 2:14 pm 21 Jul 21

    Elroy Jones no I live in Gunners, and see how our rates shot up because of the LR. And it’s no quicker then the original busses, that’s why they didn’t include Mitchell stop as it made it slower.

    Daniel Duncan Daniel Duncan 2:33 pm 21 Jul 21

    Marc well you know what to do. Vote Barr out at the next election and run for office to scrap LR and install your trackless rail.

    Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 2:34 pm 21 Jul 21

    Daniel Duncan well more people in Gunners voted against Labour at the last election, as it’s where Libs gained.

    Steve Frame Steve Frame 2:58 pm 21 Jul 21

    Marc Edwards never see me on a bus, but I'd catch a tram

    Clare Hyden Clare Hyden 3:17 pm 21 Jul 21

    Margus von Tihemetsa 4 years isn’t exactly short term. Also the productivity commission said the light rail wouldn’t help anyone so the ACT Government is deliberately causing traffic congestion to make it seem worthwhile. And no, I don’t live in Tuggeranong. It’s an enormous waste of taxpayer money, resulting in policies that are bad for the environment (like putting everyone in the city and increasing congestion) and bad for commute times. There is nothing good about this and with people working from home there is likely to be less and less value from a light rail. Other cities are pulling theirs out. Their roots can’t be tailored as the population changes. We’re also looking at the advent of driverless cars, which could see the number of vehicles reduced by 66%. Will make light rail an even more outdated technology.

    David Newman David Newman 3:28 pm 21 Jul 21

    Marc Edwards, ‘trackless trams’ ?? Aren’t they just buses?

    Daniel Oyston Daniel Oyston 3:30 pm 21 Jul 21

    Marc Edwards that's because there were a million stops on the route! Crazy

    Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 3:33 pm 21 Jul 21

    David Newman no, go look them up

    David Newman David Newman 3:34 pm 21 Jul 21

    Marc, trackless trams = trolley buses = buses

    Jeffrey Brown Jeffrey Brown 4:32 pm 21 Jul 21

    David Newman, My thoughts exactly! This would be equivelant of a few articulated buses.

    Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 5:18 pm 21 Jul 21

    David Newman no your incorrect, for all intents they look like and act like a lightrail, except they run on tires, they can be run from overhead/below ground, or batteries, but they have the advantage of being able to turn off the trackless system.

    Louis Sotiropoulos Louis Sotiropoulos 7:20 pm 21 Jul 21

    Steve Frame and that's why the bus ran at a loss. People wouldn't catch them, but line up to be crammed in like a sardine for the waste of money

    Neil Chandler Neil Chandler 5:41 pm 22 Jul 21

    Marc Edwards ok, but that there is a "trackless system" with overhead or below ground power still implies they require a dedicated right of way with significant construction costs and not without disruption to install...

    Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 5:44 pm 22 Jul 21

    Neil Chandler you did see the batteries option.

    The Tram is electric and is powered by lithium ion batteries located on the roof which are rapidly recharged (30 seconds) at solar powered platform-style-stations during service and can be fully charged while out of service at a depot. Better for the environment

    Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 5:46 pm 22 Jul 21

    Neil Chandler https://www.google.com.au/amp/s/reneweconomy.com.au/why-trackless-trams-are-ready-to-replace-light-rail-59201/amp/

    Neil Chandler Neil Chandler 5:58 pm 22 Jul 21

    Marc Edwards I'm not disputing the technology can work. And while cheaper, it still requires dedicated infrastructure thus disruption. Not to mention the additional complexity of adding and maintaining another incompatible mode of public transport to the system vs economies of scale expanding an existing mode. If Stage 1 had used this technology, I might agree with you, but now it makes way less sense.

    Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 6:10 pm 22 Jul 21

    Not incompatible at all, it can run on the same track system as the existing, but pull off into other areas such as Kingston etc. it was and remains a better system that is cheaper and more environmentally sound. And it could. Cross the existing bridge without additional works.

Trish Casey Trish Casey 12:42 pm 21 Jul 21

No good to me

    Ben Jones Ben Jones 2:36 pm 21 Jul 21

    Trish Casey if only they had taken that into consideration…..

Phil Place Phil Place 11:26 am 21 Jul 21

This will be an unmitigated disaster from beginning to end. Parkes Way will be a 10km long car park as will Cotter Road and Yarra Glen. This whole idea should never have made it past the “thought bubble” stage. I feel very sorry for anyone who works in the city or the triangle. And what will it accomplish that electric buses and the ALREADY IN EXISTENCE dedicated bus lanes can’t? More Green idealogical bulldust dressed up as a “requirement”.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:39 am 21 Jul 21

    It wouldn’t have happened if Zed had won that last ACT Legislative Assembly election he contested. Instead we got what the majority voted for so suck it up.

    GrumpyMark GrumpyMark 8:49 am 22 Jul 21

    Just goes to show how Zed was (is) even more unpopular than the tram to ACT voters – and given the lack of support for the tram that pretty much sums up why he went Federal where 3% of voters (plus over 30% or so of lemmings) will bring success.

    chewy14 chewy14 9:26 am 22 Jul 21

    Grumpymark,
    I know you don’t like Zed but to be fair, Zed was an extremely popular Liberal opposition leader and got them closer to government than successive Liberal attempts in what is clearly an uphill challenge.

    In that 2012 election, he gained nearly 2 quotas by himself on first preferences which is hardly the numbers of someone who is unpopular.

    JS9 JS9 9:15 am 22 Jul 21

    We’d just be stuck with his stupid uber conservative views on a whole bunch of other crap instead.

JS9 JS9 11:22 am 21 Jul 21

The raising of London Circuit to ‘cough cough’ allow for light rail (When in reality its just about developing the cloverleaf space) is an absolute joke. Will make traffic congestion during construction 10x worse and for no clear public net benefit.

    purplevh purplevh 9:21 pm 21 Jul 21

    That explains why some numpty thinks its a good idea to replace a working overpass with yet more traffic lights.

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