The Tuggeranong Community Council was consulted in mid–December about road works planned for Tharwa Drive in early January. The consultations took place after the Council’s general meetings had concluded for the year.
Representatives from the ACT Emergency Services Department (ESD) met with the TCC President. They advised that closure of Tharwa Drive for 7 -10 days was their preferred option.The TCC President sought assurances from ESD that all options had been explored other than full closure of Tharwa Drive. He was advised that tunnelling under the road to lay a new pipe which had been the initial plan was ruled out after test drilling revealed uneven fill material used during earlier duplication works. This made it too risky to attempt to tunnel through. He was further advised January was the best time to undertake the work as ESD and ACT Roads believed it would be a quiet time.
The ESD undertook to advise the community of the planned closure. This was done via a letter box drop and electronic sign boards on the major routes. The final advice to the public was that closure would be from 5 – 26 January. This is significantly longer than 7 – 10 days but allows for more wet weather contingency.
The TCC regrets any inconvenience caused by the road works which are a necessary part of construction for the new Emergency Services Centre. The experience after the project started has been major delays (one to one and a half hours) for traffic leaving Lanyon during the morning peak and returning in the evening peak. The volume of traffic at this time of the year has been well in excess of what was anticipated. The ESD and related agencies are monitoring the situation and putting mitigating measures in place to reduce delays.
This letter was not provided to residents of conder and would have been beneficial if perhaps residents of lanyon where consulted rather than someone who lives in a suburb unaffected . Perhaps if you actually asked residents the amount of traffic wouldn’t have been a surprise.
It seems to me that perhaps TCC needs to be less trusting and actually think through what is presented to them. It was very obvious to pretty much everyone I talked to that this was going to be a disaster. Its not rocket science.
Dear Nic and Michael
Thanks for your feedback re the TCC’ s acceptance of ESD’s plan to put the sewer pipe under Tharwa Dve. I was briefed by the Project Manager and his team in mid December, shortly after they realised that their original plan to tunnel under Tharwa Dve was no longer an option. Their preferred ‘least painful for all concerned’ option was closing Tharwa Dve for 7 to 10 days from 5th January. Based on previous years, this was supposedly a period of low traffic since it is the peak holiday period.
My main concern was ensuring that they had done a thorough job of exploring the other options that didn’t require Tharwa Dve to be totally closed. This they had done. The option of closing one side of Tharwa Dve at a time was certainly looked at. It was ruled out because it would have had works running well into February which would have resulted in long delays as traffic levels would definitely been heavier after the end of school holidays. Also, there were problems with buses and B Double trucks not being able to use the lanes because of turning angle limitations.
What has taken the planners by surprise is the level of traffic has been much heavier than expected. They have been reacting with the measures that you’d be well aware of.
I was surprised by some of the content of the letter that was sent to all houses in the suburbs effected by the closure (I live in Bonython so haven’t had to put up with the inconvenience of the Lanyon residents but that’s just an aside). Specifically, closing Tharwa Dve from 5 to 26 th January. This was well in excess of the 7 – 10 days. I spoke to the Project Manager about this. He said that others higher up the food chain added the extra days as a further contingency. He still is very hopeful that they will finish the job much earlier than 26th January but not keen on telling the public this in case wet weather causes delays.
So, while you think the TCC has been too trusting, I think we checked out their plan carefully. It was not a case of our approving it. That is not our role. They are required to consult with the community as part of their community consultation obligation and the TCC was the first port of call. Even if I had said that I think you have underestimated how much traffic will be wanting to use Tharwa Dve during the proposed closure dates, it wouldn’t have made any difference because ACT Roads provides the expert advice on this. Their next part of community consultation was the letter box drop which I thought should have been sent out earlier. It did invite community feedback so would have been the time for residents to comment on any problems they saw with the plan. I gather many residents didn’t see the letter but I doubt that any argument that traffic levels would be much higher than the planners had anticipated would have been accepted. They had the experts advice to rely on. In retrospect, they got it wrong. The other thing they did was install electronic signboards on the major routes advising the closure dates. They could have prompted residents to voice their concerns. Based on the letter and signboards, I don’t know if anyone provided any feedback to the planners about delays on the detour route being much longer than they were expecting.
Anyway, I hope the above has given you some more information to better understand the circumstances and the TCC’s role in all this.