Tillyard and Ginninderra Drives Intersection
I rise today to speak to the motion that I have put forward in regard to the intersection of Tillyard and Ginninderra Drives. When I was campaigning in 2016, the danger posed by this intersection was without question the single most pressing issue raised with me by the residents of the West Belconnen suburbs of Charnwood, Fraser, Flynn and Dunlop.
People who spoke to me shared how many times they had either witnessed accidents occur at this intersection or had seen the aftermath shortly afterwards. Many told me about their own personal near-misses. Some had been involved in crashes themselves. A large number of people explained to me that they took long trips around the area just to avoid this intersection and its known dangers. I understood that these people were not exaggerating. After having lived in Charnwood for eight years, their stories were all-too-familiar to me personally and to my family.
Data clearly back up these anecdotes. Between 1 January 2003 and 31 December 2016, the intersection of Tillyard and Ginninderra Drives was the site of 100 car crashes, 32 of which involved personal injury. I don’t have the final total for 2017, but at least nine more traffic accidents occurred at this intersection last year alone, and at least two of those resulted in personal injury. In the first seven weeks of 2018, at least three more car crashes have taken place at this hazardous intersection. One of these, which was reported on in the Canberra Times, saw three females treated at the scene by paramedics and taken to hospital.
The availability of these statistics means that the ACT Government has been aware of the dangerousness of this intersection for quite some time. In fact, Transport Canberra and City Services’ Road Safety Improvement Program website currently ranks the intersection of Tillyard and Ginninderra Drives as one of the ten most dangerous intersections in the territory based on ‘the severity and frequency of crashes which occur on the road network where road conditions are considered to be a contributing factor’.
I remind the Assembly and the minister that in 2010, the ACT Black Spot Consultative Panel identified this intersection as a site with a demonstrated serious crash rate and consequently sought Commonwealth Black Spot funding in an attempt to improve it. Those intersection upgrades were made the following year, in 2011, but they have proved to be woefully insufficient.
The rate of all traffic accidents at this notorious intersection in the five years after the upgrades were made actually increased 35 per cent when compared to the five years before the upgrades. Of even greater concern is that the five-year rate of injury crashes jumped 243 per cent after the Black Spot Program improvements were implemented, from seven to 17. I wish to point out, Madam Speaker, that the minister’s proposed amendments remove any reference to these shameful statistics.
I am, of course, not implying that the government’s attempts to improve the intersection of Tillyard and Ginninderra Drives were so poorly done that they actually worsened the situation; rather, that these attempted improvements were completely inadequate. And a good part of the reason for that is probably the increased usage that the roads that form this intersection are receiving.
According to the recently completed Residential Street Improvement Program traffic study performed by AECOM, the ACT Government classes Tillyard Drive as a ‘major collector road’, with an ‘indicative traffic volume [of] 3,000–6,000 vehicles per day’. When the segment of Tillyard Drive nearest its intersection with Ginninderra Drive was analysed in August 2016, however, the actual daily traffic volume was 9,362 vehicles per day – a staggering 56 per cent above classification.
Again, this is a troubling reality that the minister’s proposed amendments seeks to scrub from the official record. Clearly, this intersection as currently designed cannot cope with the amount of traffic that it is receiving, and if nothing is done about it, we can no doubt expect the rate of car crashes and personal injury crashes to only increase.
My greatest fear, as you can well imagine, Madam Speaker, is that we will have a fatality at this intersection at some point. I can assure you that many residents of West Belconnen have expressed this same fear to me, and far too many of them have wondered aloud if this is what it will take to force this government to finally take the necessary steps to make this intersection safer for road users. I certainly hope not! But considering the data that I have briefly outlined already, it’s a miracle that there hasn’t been a fatality already.
As it is, we need to remember those who have suffered injuries. Some of these injuries require ongoing medical care. Others have caused significant financial loss. In other cases, victims have been left with lingering mental health impacts.
Madam Speaker, when public opinion, data, and expert opinion all converge, it is a most serious matter, and that is the case when it comes to the intersection of Tillyard and Ginninderra Drives. Public opinion is clear: one year ago I tabled a petition in this chamber, signed by 1,329 Canberra residents, calling on the ACT Government to install traffic lights at this intersection. More people approached me wishing to sign after the petition had already been tabled, and the aforementioned AECOM traffic study noted similar public sentiment on this issue. Of course, the minister has once again sought to hide this point by eliminating it from her proposed amendments.
Although the government wishes to remove half of them from the motion as written, the data are likewise clear. The intersection of Tillyard and Ginninderra Drives has a high rate of accidents, and Roads ACT has determined that road conditions are a contributing factor. The rate of crashes – and especially of injury crashes – has been trending upward significantly, and the traffic volume is far too high for the intersection as it now exists.
And then finally, Madam Speaker, we have the expert opinion. Last week we learnt in this chamber that the feasibility study of this intersection, commissioned in response to last year’s petition, has now been completed, and that it recommends the installation of traffic lights.
As part of this motion, I call upon the ACT Government to table this completed study by the close of business today. It was produced as an official response to more than 1,300 concerned Canberra residents, and these residents deserve no less from their government than to know the full details of what has been learnt and recommended in this study. I can think of no justifiable reason why the people of this territory should be kept in the dark on this issue.
Madam Speaker, I’m not sure the situation could be any clearer. The people have petitioned this government for traffic lights. A dispassionate consideration of the statistics demands the installation of traffic lights. And now an expert study, we have been told, is recommending the installation of traffic lights.
The only potential obstacle – and unfortunately it is a common one with this government – is access to adequate funding. A Canberra Times article from September 2014, entitled ‘Belconnen roads among most dangerous in Canberra’, specifically addressed the hazards of the intersection of Tillyard and Ginninderra Drives but then also noted Roads ACT’s excuse that, and I quote, ‘funding limited the treatments they could use to fix the problems’. Minister Fitzharris raised this same point with me during last year’s annual reports hearings, noting that the installation of traffic lights is expensive.
To this, I have two things to say. First, intentionally allowing car crashes to continue occurring at an intersection that is known to be hazardous is also expensive. Figures from Roads ACT from 2015 indicate that the cost of a property-damage-only crash in the ACT is $9,537. The cost of an injury crash is $363,250. Using these figures as a baseline, this means the total cost of all traffic accidents that occurred at the intersection of Tillyard and Ginninderra Drives in the five years since the Black Spot Program improvements has been $6,451,823. This figure does not include the 2017 crash data or any of the three crashes that are known to have happened there so far this year. Clearly, the cost of doing nothing far outweighs the cost of fixing things.
Second, the residents of West Belconnen have a pretty basic expectation of their government: this is, they expect government revenue to be used to provide essential services, including keeping them safe. Under this government and previous Labor–Greens governments, my constituents who are fortunate enough to own their own homes have watched their rates skyrocket. Those who rent have seen their weekly rental payments soar so that their landlords can pay their rates. Those who rely on public transport are paying more for bus fares. Those who drive are paying more, both for rego and for parking. And on it goes.
My constituents, Madam Speaker, understand the social contract between them and this government. And on this issue, they expect action to be taken, not at some unknown point in the future but now. This year. And they want an assurance from the government that this is what will happen. For this reason I call upon the ACT Government to assure the residents of West Belconnen and the rest of the ACT that the traffic safety measures recommended in the recently completed feasibility study will be completely funded in the 2018–19 budget and to provide a specific date by which these traffic lights will be installed.
Both responsible government and the good people of my electorate demand nothing less.