A new bridge over Coppins Crossing, as part of the John Gorton Drive extension, is one of the most significant projects underway in the Molonglo Valley, Chris Steel, Minister for Transport and City Services, said in the Legislative Assembly this week.
But locals are disappointed the bridge will open a year later than they expected.
The bridge will provide a dual carriageway for road vehicles, on-road cycle lanes, and an off-road shared path; it will also be futureproofed for light rail, Mr Steel said. The ACT and Commonwealth Governments have each contributed $87.5 million to the bridge.
The 2019 Infrastructure Plan states that design and construction of the Molonglo River Bridge would begin in 2020–21, and the bridge would be completed in 2024.
Mr Steel said this week that construction would begin in 2023, and the bridge would open in 2025.
The Molonglo Valley Community Forum’s spokesman Ryan Hemsley said the delay was frustrating for residents and businesses of the Molongo Valley.
The Weston Creek Community Council’s chair, Bill Gemmell, was concerned completion of the bridge could be further delayed if budget pressures continued.
Minor car crashes or Molonglo River floods could make the Cotter Road and Tuggeranong Parkway congested, as an accident on Wednesday showed.
“The current arrangements have very little redundancy,” Mr Gemmell said.
Residents were also worried that without a bridge, emergency routes would be limited in case they had to evacuate during a bushfire.
“This bridge will significantly improve transport and traffic safety across the ACT. We will be asking Minister Steel for an explanation of this delay,” Mr Hemsley said.
Mr Steel stated that the timelines in the Infrastructure Plan were indicative. He reassured the community that the project had not faced any delays.
“We understand the importance of the bridge to improving transport connectivity for the growing Molonglo community. That’s why we are working hard to deliver this project as development expands to the northern end of the region and beyond by the middle of this decade.”
The August 2020 ACT Budget set aside $178 million for the project, including $2 million in 2020–21 for early design and planning works, which were already well progressed, Mr Steel said.
In the last year, Mick Gentleman, Minister for Planning and Land Management, signed an Environmental Impact Statement exemption in September; the Development Application was approved in February; and the contract for enabling works was signed in May.
The government will prepare tender documentation for the Design and Construct (D&C) tender and undertake technical assessments. The D&C contractor will be awarded next year.
“This is a very large and complex infrastructure project being delivered within an important environmental corridor,” Mr Steel said. “Detailed technical and design work is essential to ensure we can deliver this project effectively and efficiently once construction starts.”
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