Molonglo River bridge

This bridge over the Molonglo River will be completed by 2024 as the last section of the John Gorton Drive. The interest in the bridge is ongoing (previously discussed here and here), and the story gets better. The adjacent Butters Bridge was finished in 2016 and now closed due to construction works.

The most recent update on the John Gorton Drive Bridge is found here from 12 February 2021.

When will it be finished?

Weston Creek Community Council wrote to Chris Steel, Minister for Roads and Active Travel, requesting that John Gorton Drive Bridge be brought forward as part of the ACT Government’s Fast Track program. This now seems unlikely.

Minister Chris Steel’s replied to the Weston Creek Community Council can be found on their website. Here is the short answer.

Given the early stages this project is in and the significant amount of design work that is still required before it can progress further, the Government is not looking to fast track the project at this time.

Reply from Minister Chris Steel, TCCS, 5 June 2020.

Three bridges are planned

Three bridges are planned to span the Molonglo River. The first was completed in 2016, the Butters Bridge. The second bridge will be the John Gorton Drive Bridge (2024). The third bridge will connect new suburb on Molonglo besides Coombs with the north side of the river and the Tuggeranong Parkway via a new overpass. This bridge is years off and not likely to be completed before the end of the Molonglo Stage 3 development (2030-2035).

Another two bridges are planned for the Molonglo Valley, Canberra. Source: Molonglo Valley Planning and Design Framework -Stage 3

Butters Bridge

This Butters Bridge was announced as a pedestrian and cycling bridge. ACT Environment has now made it clear that they do not want cyclist in the Molonglo River Reserve area. Access to the Butters Bridge will be limited. The bridge was built first as it supports the sewerage line from the new suburbs on the south of the Molonglo Valley.

For cyclists and pedestrians, the alternate crossing over the Butters Bridge is currently not possible as the bridge is closed.

Namarag Molonglo Special Purpose Reserve construction works have closed the Butters Bridge at its north end. Bridge access is possible from the south end (Denman Prospect) just for the view. (Stand 6 February 2021)

Photo by Pixabay on

Reporting in The RiotACT

Weston Creek Community Council has been lobbying for the early completion of the John Gorton Drive Bridge. The discussion has featured regularly in the Canberra press.

Official information

There is not much information available about this bridge. The bridge required environmental approval for its construction. Further, the bridge is mentioned in the ACT Infrastructure Plan 2019. The following information is an extract from those reports.

John Gorton Drive Exemption Application

The typical cross section for the road design has been developed in accordance with the adjacent sections of John Gorton Drive (dual lane carriage way). This is defined as an: 8m verge containing a 3m shared pedestrian/cycle path, a road carriageway comprising of a 2m shoulder for a dedicated bicycle lane, two 3.5m traffic lanes with a 12m central median(to accommodate future light rail).

Included in the median is a 0.5m offside shoulder on each carriageway.

The bridge itself is proposed as a three-span haunched steel girder bridge, 227.5m long (see Figure3-1). Total width about 34m.

Provide a bridge which is aesthetically pleasing to the Molonglo Valley area and matches the architectural properties of the existing Butters Bridge to compliment the “Family of Bridges” concept.

John Gorton Drive 3C Extension (JGD3C) 211 EIS Exemption Application, 27 September 2019, Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act)
Figure 1.1: Location of JGD3C, John Gorton Drive 3C Extension (JGD3C) 211 EIS Exemption Application, 27 September 2019, Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act)

ACT Infrastructure Plan 2019

Priorities – the next five years

Connecting Molonglo – John Gorton Drive and Molonglo River Bridge crossing.

The Molonglo River bridge crossing and completion of John Gorton Drive is a major piece of infrastructure that will support significant land releases in Molonglo, including the full development of Denman Prospect and the Molonglo Commercial Centre. When built, the new bridge will span 227.5 metres across the region’s major river. The completed arterial road and bridge crossing will also support public transport, active travel and potentially a future light rail route. The new bridge will be built to withstand a one in one hundred year flood level, and significantly improve traffic safety compared with the current crossing. As new communities grow at Whitlam, Denman Prospect, Coombs and Wright, this is leading to increased traffic and the need for stronger transport links across the Molonglo Valley. … The bridge and arterial road will also support continued release of future estate developments in Whitlam and East Molonglo 3. Geotechnical investigations and preliminary sketch plans are underway and will include provision for utilities and telecommunications infrastructure. An Environmental Impact Statement will also be needed to obtain the necessary development approvals. (Note: both now completed) Design and construction is expected to commence in 2020-21 and be completed in 2024.

ACT Infrastructure Plan 2019ACT Government, 2019

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