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Cooma Road traffic could get worse: Councillors starting to ask tough questions

Many people in Queanbeyan believe that the Ellerton Drive Extension (EDE) will decrease the traffic flow on Cooma Rd leading into the city, as well as traffic flow on Monaro Street, thereby supporting the ‘bypass’ label attached to the EDE.

But Queanbeyan Council’s latest traffic study throws doubt on this proposition.

In addition to the council engineer admitting that the EDE would lessen current traffic flow onto Monaro Street by only about 5 percent, a December 2014 consultant report, (the TDG Tracks Model) leaves open to question what future flows into the centre of town might look like – on the face of it implying they might increase greatly.

The consultants looked at traffic flows within the existing Queanbeyan road network attributed to Googong peak hour traffic (coming and going) by 2031.

In those combined peak hours, it looks like nearly 50 percent of Googong traffic travelling to and fro, and using a proposed four-lane Old Cooma Rd (up to the Karabar shops), is expected to travel through central Queanbeyan (somewhere unspecified, maybe along Southbar Road or through the city?).

The numbers on the map in the report project that 2083 out of 4247 vehicle movements will go that way compared with just 988 using the EDE and 411 being allocated to the Edwin Land Parkway (ELP) (which still leaves a few lost in space).

“So a high percentage of Googong traffic is expected to funnel into two lane Cooma St or other surrounding roads in spite of the existence of the EDE or the ELP. This is highly contradictory of Council’s stated intentions to reduce traffic on Cooma St and Queanbeyan’s existing road network,” noted Claire Cooper of Greenleigh who has deconstructed the consultant’s report leaving her with many questions for the relevant planners.

 Councillors respond to avalanche of community critiques

Cooper is just one of at least 855 residents and groups from affected Jerrabomberra through Karabar to Greenleigh (total submission numbers are higher) who have written to Queanbeyan council since December. The issues existing residents have raised – from high suburban noise and traffic impacts, destruction of bush and wildlife, to escalating cost (now pushing $90 million) to basically ‘it makes no sense’ has caused a seismic shift in the previously solid council support for the EDE/ELP route.

Councillors Jamie Cregan and Kenrick Winchester at the February meeting put a motion calling for a pause and review in the form of a widely-advertised community forum with engineers present. Councillor Brown again called for comparative/alternative route costings of Dunns Creek Rd.

“After being stuck in traffic jams a few times along Yass Rd/Pialligo Ave and Lanyon/Tompsitt Drives, frustrated motorists will very quickly revert to alternative runs to the ACT. The obvious choice will be Cooma St, Southbar Rd and Cameron Rd,” suggested Cooper glancing at the traffic study.

Many EDE critics agree the best way to take car and truck traffic off the existing network is to build Dunns Creek Road from Googong and Tralee to the Monaro Highway and also upgrade the existing northern heavy vehicle bypass. Both these options were dismissed without an actual cost benefit comparison to the EDE by the 2009 traffic committee.

“Council was given $1.45m [by NSW] to spend on preliminary design work and environmental studies for the Dunns Creek Rd. So why hasn’t that work commenced yet?” asked Cooper.

Image: Google Maps

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