You ain’t seen nothing yet!

Molonglo Valley has only 5000 residents currently, yet the existing traffic chaos might lead the average Canberran to think it cannot get much worse. Molonglo is at the beginning of a rapid growth spurt, and in the next few years the growth of congestion will follow suit.

Roads will be choked until 2031

What is coming up before 2031? The completion dates are set but may vary – which is typical of new urban land developments in the ACT – if known.

ProjectCompletion
construction of the John Gorton Drive Bridge2025
construction of 132 GL dam in Whitlam2025
completion of Whitlam stages 3 and 4
Molonglo commercial centre first stage2028
shops at Whitlam
duplication of William Hovell Drive
first suburb of Molonglo 3 East
construction of Denman North (Denman Stage 2)
Compiled by canberra.bike, 2021

If you think this will be disruptive, then you are right. Coppins Crossing will be closed for 1 or 2 years due to the construction of the John Gorton Drive Bridge. Expect traffic chaos at the north end of the John Gorton Drive, and when it is all finished it will look like this. The roads marked red will have traffic that exceeds their design capacity – these roads will be congested at peak periods.

Molonglo Valley traffic predictions 2031 TCCS
Molonglo Valley traffic predictions 2031 TCCS. Source: PTCBR

By 2041 traffic is at a standstill

Between 2031 and 2041 the 3 suburbs in Molonglo 3 East are likely to be completed and so will more importantly be the 2nd bridge over the river (east-west corridor). Despite this, the traffic chaos will get worse, because the population growth far exceeds the capacity growth in the planned road network.

Molonglo Valley traffic predictions 2041 TCCS
Molonglo Valley traffic predictions 2041 TCCS Source: PTCBR

Light rail is coming

Light rail is not planned for the Molonglo Valley, or is it? We cannot build our way out of congestion! The only way to free up road space is a shift to other travel modes: public transport, cycling, and walking. To commute to work, particularly Civic, residents will require good cycling and public transport networks throughout the Molonglo Valley.

TCCS is not consequent about this. It knows from its own traffic predictions that the Molonglo Valley is designed – and doomed – to be a car city, but we continue to build it on the presumption that everybody owns – and wants – a motor vehicle. The shadow of post-war planning is upon us still. Urban designers seem to have a windscreen paradigm.

The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) is well aware of the problem. The Chairperson, Ryan Hemsley, has both fought to have provision for the light rail included on the John Gorton Drive Bridge development, and in the planning of Molonglo 3 East. More recently, PTCBR pointed out that the designs for John Gorton Drive stage 3 (including the bridge) does not consider buses! Please read this again. And then read it again! And again!

Buses not being considered is important, as we can expect that the light rail will be a long time coming. The children living in the Molonglo Valley today will grow up knowing only cars and buses. They are unlikely to see light rail in the Molonglo Valley before voting age. The conclusion of the PTCBR was the following:

In summary, PTCBR believes that the proposed design of John Gorton Drive Stage 3C promotes a transport hierarchy that gives primacy to private motor vehicle traffic over public transport and other sustainable travel modes in a manner that is inconsistent with established ACT Government policy.

Ryan Hemsley, PTCBR, PTCBR Representation – DA202037798-2

The PTCBR Representation argues that the intersections be redesigned to prioritise buses. The red dots are intersections that require bus priority. The design application for the John Gorton Drive Bridge was deficient in this regard. We are waiting for a reply from the ACT Government (EPSDD).

The PTCBR is doing a great job and deserves the support from everyone wanting to live in a people friendly place. Our observation is that the average Canberran does NOT want Sydney like traffic replicated here.

PTCBR bus prioritisation at intersection. PTCBR submission, 2021.
PTCBR bus prioritisation at intersection. PTCBR submission, 2021.

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