By Tess Macallan, Journalist, Infrastructure Magazine

Raising London Circuit is one of central Canberra’s most significant road projects since the 1960s, with the new interchange benefiting pedestrians and cyclists and enabling the Light Rail to Woden project to proceed. However, as with many major projects, road users will be impacted throughout the construction. The ACT Government is addressing these disruptions by implementing smart traffic monitoring technology.

The Raising London Circuit project involves increasing the level of London Circuit approximately six metres – to the Commonwealth Avenue level – and creating a signalised intersection.

Raising London Circuit is a critical step in extending Canberra’s light rail network, allowing for a seamless integration of light rail infrastructure. Once the project is complete, construction can start on the first stage of Light Rail to Woden, Stage 2A – City to Commonwealth Park.

Stage 2B will take the light rail from Commonwealth Park all the way to Woden. Light Rail to Woden is projected to transport 39,000 passengers a day once operational, supporting Canberra’s growing population.

Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Minister for Transport and City Services, Chris Steel, said Light Rail to Woden is the biggest infrastructure project in the history of the city.

“The project will make Canberra better connected and more sustainable, support thousands of jobs and cut future traffic gridlock as we grow,” Mr Steel said. However, Raising London Circuit is also set to benefit the city as a standalone project, aiming to provide a better connection between the city and Lake Burley Griffin.

Australian Capital Territory Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, said, “Connecting London Circuit to Commonwealth Avenue is a significant step forward for light rail, activating the southern part of Canberra’s CBD, Canberra Theatre precinct and providing better connections to the Acton Waterfront.”

The project includes new footpaths and pedestrian signals to offer more options for those walking around the city. Pedestrians and cyclists will also benefit from the inclusion of dedicated bike lanes.

“We are not only building the platform for light rail to turn from London Circuit onto Commonwealth Avenue, but removing barriers for cyclists and pedestrians moving through the southern part of the city,” Mr Barr said.

Construction works for Raising London Circuit began in October 2022. This included the installation of temporary traffic lights and a new bus lane at the northern side of Vernon Circle.

A new footpath and pedestrian signals on City Hill between Constitution Avenue and Edinburgh Avenue are also now open, providing a safe connection for Canberrans and visitors to walk, e-scoot and cycle across the city centre.

In December 2022, the ACT Government announced the temporary closure of London Circuit between Edinburgh Avenue and Constitution Avenue and the permanent closure of the two western cloverleaf ramps leading into the city.

Providing an update two weeks after the closure, Mr Steel said, “The Government has been closely monitoring the traffic around the city during construction and as expected, there has been some disruption on certain road corridors since the closure of the southern section of London Circuit and the two cloverleaf ramps on Commonwealth Avenue.”

Managing traffic during construction

The raising of London Circuit will have major impacts on traffic conditions in Canberra. The ACT Government’s early traffic analysis indicated that without intervention, construction impacts would lead to congestion and delays, with flow-on impacts across the entire road and public transport network.

To manage disruption, the Government is installing around 40 additional Bluetooth sensors across the city’s road network, alongside 30 new cameras to provide live updates to motorists and public transport users. 20 Bluetooth sensors have been installed as of February 2023. Supply chain is

sues have impeded the arrival of the new cameras but it is expected that they will all be installed by mid-2023.

“To reduce traffic impacts associated with the delivery of light rail and other

major public and private projects in the city centre, we’ve been investing in smart technology to better manage our traffic network during construction and beyond,” Mr Steel said.

At Canberra’s traffic management centre, additional staff have been employed to ensure live coverage during the busiest times of the day. Mr Steel said that although disruption is unavoidable, these measures ensure better management of traffic lights and provide motorists with live updates on signage as construction progresses.

“The data collected from the traffic network will be used to convey directions to motorists before and during travel on the best ways to move around the city during the construction period,” Mr Steel said. “Better surveillance of our roads throughout the day will also mean we can respond more quickly to events like accidents holding up traffic.”

When areas of the network appear to be congested, staff are dispatched out in the field to investigate. From there, the public is notified through variable messaging signs. Roads ACT will also communicate with other areas of the ACT Government and they will send out notifications through social media.

Although it is too early to see full results from the technology, continuous monitoring through the Bluetooth sensors has allowed for better accuracy. In February 2023, Mr Steel said the ACT Government was keenly monitoring conditions and looking for ways to improve the commutes of Canberrans.

“Major infrastructure projects now under construction are disruptive but they will ensure that our city is better connected, sustainable and vibrant in the long term,” Mr Steel said. With the raising of London Circuit expected to be completed in 2024 and Light Rail works to continue in the coming years, the implementation of smart technology will continue to support Canberra’s traffic management system.

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