Hackett Traffic Issues

What’s the problem?

Over the last 3-4 years there has been a growing problem with cars (and even private buses) using Hackett as a shortcut to get priority access to Majura Ave. 

The fundamental problem is that east Gungahlin is being developed without sufficient consideration given to transport routes in and out of the suburbs.  This results in significant congestion on existing routes such as Northbourne Ave.  To avoid the congestion there, cars are turning left from the Federal highway and going down Antill Street with the aim of getting onto Majura Ave and then Limestone Ave. 

Faced with delays at the Philip Ave/Majura Ave intersection, drivers believe (rightly or wrongly) that it would be quicker to cut through Hackett to get the priority turn into Majura.  This, in turn, makes the situation worse, further slowing down other drivers (and so on).

The consequence for Hackett has been that suburban streets meant to take light traffic are faced with large volumes of traffic moving quickly in the mornings.  The Hackett Community Association undertook a traffic survey in March 2008 to try to get an idea of the size of the problem (table of results).  The key findings were:

  •       Between 7.30am and 9.00am 1079 vehicles turned from Antill Street into Madigan Street
  •       Between 8.00am and 9.00am 13 vehicles a minute were entering Hackett via Madigan Street.

This affects the lives of the residents of Hackett in a number of ways:

  •       It is dangerous for children who are walking or cycling to school at that time of the morning
  •       It is dangerous for older people in Hackett trying to cross roads (particularly given that the traffic is moving quickly)
  •       It makes it difficult for the residents of Hackett to get in and out of the suburb during that time.

It should also be kept in mind that, with the further development of new suburbs in east Gungahlin, the situation is set to get much worse over the next few years.

What can be done?

Following the traffic survey, the Hackett Community Association has held a number of discussions (including sponsoring two community meetings) with ACT Roads about possible solutions.

Traffic lights: ACT Roads, and most residents, believe that the best solution would be to construct traffic lights at the  Phillip Ave/Majura Ave intersection.  The operation of the lights would be set (say at 75:25 ratio) to favour traffic turning right, which would allow for a better flow of traffic and remove the incentive to cut through Hackett. 

The problem with this solution is that the construction of traffic lights would involve significant expenditure which is not factored into the forward budget for Roads.  It may not be constructed for some time unless there is community pressure on the ACT Government to prioritise construction.  At a North Canberra “Meet the Candidates” meeting in September 2008 (sponsored by the North Canberra Community Council) both the ALP and the Greens committed to fast-tracking traffic lights at the intersection.  A draft letter urging the ACT Government to take action on this issue (is linked here).

Traffic redirection:  In the short term, there are a number of options available to redirect traffic which can be done immediately and which would solve the problem.  The difficulty, however, is that all the options have disadvantages and none (so far) has widespread support. 

One option would be to change the Phillip Ave/Majura Ave intersection to give priority to traffic turning right from Phillip.  This would eliminate the problem because through-traffic would be put at a disadvantage.  A public meeting was held to discuss this option, and it was strongly rejected because of the inconvenience to traffic leaving Hackett from the other direction on Phillip (turning left into Majura).

A second proposal (Correspondence from ACT Roads to the HCA explaining options) was to undertake a 6 month trial involving signs at Antill/Madigan preventing either a left hand turn into Madigan (Option 1) or both left hand and right hand turns (Option 2) between 7.30am and 9.00am.  This would also solve the problem but was rejected because of concern from Hackett shop-owners about the possible effect on business in the mornings (see comments below) and concern about inconvenience for Hackett residents who might want to re-enter Hackett on Madigan St during that period.

Traffic calming:  Another possibility is that various traffic calming measures (eg. speed bumps) are put into place to slow traffic down and discourage rat-runners.  This, however, has been rejected by some residents on nearby streets, who argue that it would increase traffic noise (slowing down/speeding up) right through the day and night.

Next steps

Hackett Community Association is now pursuing two paths:

1.    We are pressing the ACT Government and ACT Roads about the timetable for the construction of traffic lights

2.    We are continuing to explore short-term options with ACT Roads which would be accepted to residents.

In the meantime, please write to the ACT Government letting them know about how serious the problem is getting, and post any comments or suggestions you may have on this website..

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25 Comments
  1. Worst decision ever to install the traffic lights at Phillip Ave/Majura Ave. It has not improved traffic flow and if anything has further reduced the amenity of Hackett residents. A million dollars wasted.

  2. This situation was always going to occur as Monash Drive has been taken off the ACT Territory Plan. As a result, Hackett and Watson residents have their access to Mt Ainslie, and Mt Majura, now, but they also have the extreme traffic. There should have been some other consideration for another ring road to take traffic away from the inner north suburbs, but the ACT Government and the Greens did not give consideration to this.

  3. The issue is not only in Hackett.

    The traffic is shocking down Ebden Street and also Duffy Street in Ainslie. However, It is not only the same traffic currently travelling through Hackett, but also Hackett residents as well.

    The speeding and illegal overtaking is making it very dangerous. It is a 50 zone not 70. There are double lanes down much of the road and this does not seem to even register.

    None of the traffic modelling or local area calming proposals undertaken for the area even considers the traffic situtation on these streets.

  4. I don’t normally make comment about traffic however this morning I was shocked to see that it is not only cars that are cutting through Hackett, it includes interstate bus services. The traffic was that congested I couldn’t even get out of my own street.

  5. The ACT Government consultant’s report Cycling & Pedestrian Network – Priority Infrastructure for Capital Works February 2011 is on the website here:
    http://www.tams.act.gov.au/move/cycling/trunkcycleandpedestrianinfrastructure/cycling_and_pedestrian_network_priority_infrastructure_for_capital_works_february_2011

    Locally, it overlooks any cycling route upgrades in Hackett, the Duffy St route or the tracks up the hill running parallel to Duffy St which many cyclists use. It does however include the imagined Monash Drive on all its maps.

    There are suggestions of upgrading alternate cycle routes through Ainslie on Sherbrooke St,
    Majura Avenue, Ebden St and Officer Crescent.

    It’s worth a look.

  6. The intersection design is up for comment.
    I’m pleased to see the pedestrian crossing at the lights linking up with a new connection to the Dickson bike path.

    PUBLIC WORKS-ROADS. Upgrade of the Phillip Avenue and Majura Avenue intersection to signalisation including pavement widening; new footpaths; services relocation and removal of 3 trees. Open for public comment until 31/03/11.”

    http://www.actpla.act.gov.au/topics/your_say/comment/pubnote?sq_content_src=%2BdXJsPWh0dHAlM0ElMkYlMkZhcHBzLmFjdHBsYS5hY3QuZ292LmF1JTJGcHVibm90ZSUyRnB1Ym5vdGVEZXRhaWxfbmV3LmFzcCUzRkRBX25vJTNEMjAxMTE5NTc0JmFsbD0x

  7. Why can’t we have lights at peak times and then have them flashing amber outside them like they do in Europe? (Flashing amber means take care)

    Yes I know it isn’t done in many places in Australia but neither is Melbourne’s right turn from the left lane, and that works brilliantly.

  8. Roundabout on Phillip Ave/Majura Ave with a sliplane going left from Hackett onto Majura. Then right-turners from Phillip wouldn’t block the left turners, and people coming out from Majura wouldn’t be blocked by either.

    Solved?

  9. Can anyone tell me why a roundabout at the corner of Phillip Ave/ Majura Ave wouldn’t work just as well as a traffic light?

    That way we wouldn’t have to worry about traffic lights in non-peak times.

    We also need a few proper pedestrian crossings – particularly one to get to Blue Gum school across Madigan St – which is very busy on school morning times.

    A decent crossing system for people to navigate Majura Ave would be good – without having to go all the way past Officer Cres.

    And while I’m at it, is North Canberra Community Council interested in lobbying for a bike path which doesn’t just stop suddenly at Dickson college, but actually services Hackett too?

    Cheers, Indra

    • I have just moved to Hackett and get a bit irate at the “rat run” traffic although their “solution” is a perfectly rational response. So, six months late, I think the answer to Indra’s suggestion of a roundabout at the intersection of Phillip and Majura Avenues is that it would actually make the situation worse for Hackett residents while improving it for the “ran runners”.

      A roundabout at Phillip/Majura would give CONSTANT priority to traffic turning right into Majura from Phillip which, in periods of heavy traffic, would block ALL traffic coming the opposite way on Phillip from Hackett. The “rat runners” who now use the left turn from Phillip to Majura would quickly learn of this advantage, which in turn would leave Hackett residents blocked in at BOTH ends because “rat runners” from the north on Antill would go straight ahead instead of turning left into Madigan and this would block ALL traffic from Madigan to Antill.

      • I agree with Mark’s comment above that the roundabout would create access problems.

        Traffic lights are a better solution in the morning peak though at other times they would slow things down.

        Does anyone agree that there seems to be more morning peak hour traffic using Hackett in the last month?

        I notice it especially in traffic banked up in Maitland St trying to get into Stott Street then Phillip Avenue.

        Perhaps roadworks on Majura Road are causing even more drivers to choose the Hackett route instead.

  10. The solution to your problem is Majura parkway. I drive through Hackett and Dickson every morning to get from Harrison to Hume and to avoid the death-trap that is Majura Lane in the morning. I see the same cars every day following the same route. Once Majura Parkway is built, your local traffic problems will disappear.

    Don’t allow your community council to be hijacked by the ACT Greens. Support Majura Parkway.

  11. I see no great problem with having cars using Madigan Street as a route to the city. It is a wide road with pedestrian islands and if through traffic leads to an enhanced retail area, then all Hackett residents benefit. Bring on the Cafe. We have to ensure that the 40km school zone is enforced, as so far most people don’t slow down for this (especially the Deanes buses at 8am). However I think we should have No Right Turn between 7.30am and 9am into Maitland Street from Madigan Street. Maitland is a narrow curvy street with many residences not designed for traffic. It is many cars using this route, and then banking up when they get to Stott Street that is the real problem.

  12. I can’t find the sample letter to Jon Stanhope on the Hackett traffic problem that is suppose be at this site as mentioned in the Hackett Newsletter. Can someone please point me to the right place. Thanks. Regards Greg

  13. I appreciate Steve’s and others efforts to revive the Hackett shops and it is to be applauded.

    It is ridiculous traffic entering Hackett via Madigan Street just to get a left turn off Phillip Avenue into Majura Avenue.

    I hope future of our shops isn’t based on that anomaly continuing forever.

    I accept now that banning all left and right turns off Antill into Hackett in the morning peak would create big problems. The option of stopping just the left turns off Antill into Hackett might work if it doesn’t lead to traffic rat running on other minor roads.

    Unfortunately I was unaware of the traffic issues meeting in March 09 until after it, so I don’t know what was discussed and the wider concerns of other Hackett residents.

    However my problem, as mentioned in my previous post, is with traffic on school days racing along the northern Maitland street shortcut in the morning which is trying to beat traffic on the longer Madigan Street route heading for the left turn off Philip Ave into Majura Ave.

    Often traffic also backs up in Maitland Street trying to turn into Stott Street which in turn is full of cars waiting to turn right into Phillip Avenue.

    Maitland Street on the northern half is a narrow curved road with limited sight lines and the speed of traffic leaves kids trying to cross it exposed.

    That part of Maitland Street attracts pedestrians and cyclists making their way to the pedestrian crossing on Phillip Ave, the only relatively safe place to cross it.

    If the first right turn from Madigan into the northern end of Maitland was banned in the morning it should solve this problem and still direct traffic past the shops on Madigan Street.

    At least if people have to use Hackett to get to Phillip Avenue then Madigan St is wider and better able to cope with it than Maitland St.

    The cover letter from Roads ACT about the options to stop traffic entering Hackett off Antill Street in the morning notes that Roads ACT “has put forward a budget proposal in 2009/10 financial year for the forward design” of “the long term proposal to install traffic signals at Majura Avenue / Phillip Avenue”.

    It wasn’t announced in the latest Black Spot funding but hopefully if the proposal gets up traffic lights might lessen the Hackett rat running problem in the next decade.

    I’ll write to our politicians of each party asking for traffic lights and hope others will too.

    However drivers might still use Hackett roads to avoid the roundabout on Antill and Phillip Avenue. It will continue to get worse as Gungahlin and North Watson grow.

    So in the meantime how about stopping traffic turning right off Madigan Street into the northern end of Maitland Street in the morning?

  14. I’m just wondering what happened to the letter to local members that was discussed at the last meeting?

  15. I just found out about the proposal to change the traffic arrangements along Madigan and I am horrified about the impact this will have on me and my family.

    You site does not have any explanation about what the actual problems are. Nor does your site have contact details so can phone someone to ask. I strongly suggest you put more information on the site.

    Is the issue getting children to school safely across Maitland Street? If so let me say that until recently my child successfully crossed Maitland Street to get to school. He did so for years and before he decided it wasn’t cool to be seen with his mum I often walked with him for the exercise and time to chat – I did not consider it scary or particularly dangerous.

    But if other parents do, a crossing like the one on Antil Street is an option that needs to be considered and would seem a far better option.

    To lock me and other residents out of our suburb without giving us the facts would be a great pity.

  16. I prefer the option blocking the most traffic and I think it is a feasible plan. It is very scary and dangerous tring to get children on the way to school in the mornings across Maitland Street between Caldwell and Newton Streets because of speeding cars coming around the bend racing towards Stott St as a way of getting to Phillip Ave then a left turn into Majura Ave.

    The argument of “letting the traffic run free” so some cars might stop at the shops is at the risk of a child getting run down in Maitland St.

  17. Hackett Community Association

    My name is Steven Savoulidis and I have a vested interested in the development and success of the Hackett Shopping Centre.

    A few years ago I noticed, and was disheartened, by the slow and steady decline of the Hackett Shops. This was a source of concern to me and the subject of much discussion between family and friends.

    Four years ago I decided that I would try and revive the Hackett shops. I contacted my friend John Krnc and we compared the state of the shops as they stood at the time to how they were as I remembered them during my teenage years.

    We formed a partnership and honed our resources, buying the supermarket business and property. It was a huge gamble and despite being advised that it was a foolish idea we proceeded with our venture in the faith that we could make a difference.

    My brother Arthur and I managed the supermarket and steadily built up the business. This involved a lot of dedication, hard work and many long hours. We returned the convenience of a local supermarket to the Hackett community who in return supported us with their patronage.

    We derived a plan for reviving the shopping centre, firstly we relocated the supermarkets’ entry doors for the purpose of getting people to use the southern car park and enter the supermarket by passing the other shops. This was done at great expense as it involved not just the relocation of the doors but the total restructuring of the checkout area, fruit and liquor sections.

    In mid 2008 Arthur and I left the supermarket to the Krnc brothers and took on the responsibility of redeveloping the three units alongside the supermarket with the intention of leasing two of them. Arthur and I taking the third unit and with the idea that Hackett needed a little bit of a cosmopolitan feel to it, we began the process of planning for a café.

    Since undertaking this project we have encountered some hurdles along the way that were not only very costly but delayed the progress significantly. We dealt with each of them head on and continued. However some unexpected hurdles have the potential to change the course of our plans completely. The proposed traffic changes to entry points into Hackett is one of them.

    Arthur and I have been in the café industry for over 20 years and we know that restricting access into the suburb between 7:30am and 9:00am has huge consequences to a café which relies on the breakfast trade.

    Our intention was to open from 7.00am whether it be for just coffee, paper or a bacon & eggs breakfast. Our customer target base was Ainslie, Dickson, Downer, Watson and Hackett. Capturing customers outside Hackett will be very difficult with access to the suburb being limited during those hours.

    I believe that the road changes will create double the amount of traffic on Philip Avenue, and as entry back into Hackett is via Philip Avenue, any local residents that exit the suburb briefly, like mothers dropping their children off at school, will have to join this congested section of road in order to get back home. This may encourage them to shop at neighboring shopping centres and potentially sit for a coffee elsewhere also.

    Trucks delivering stock to Hackett IGA will also be inconvenienced and add to the congestion en route to the supermarket.

    We had been negotiating with a local Canberra bakery about opening a store in Hackett. Since the traffic changes were brought to light I was informed by that business proprietor that he was no longer interested because his morning trade will be hindered. My concern now is that business options for the other two units will be limited, making them harder to be leased.

    These road changes will affect a wide range of people and consideration should be given before any changes are put in place. From the staff and students of Blue Gum School, staff at ACT Sports House, Samaritan House, Health Care workers entering the suburb. The traffic problems that it will create as a result will affect the Catholic University, Dickson College not the mention the residents of Philip Avenue.

    It is my belief that the majority of residents are not aware of the proposed road changes. Many that I have had discussions with are unaware of the consequences that could result. It would be unjust to implement any changes on the views of the minority alone.

    Kind regards

    Steven Savoulidis

    • 27.3.09
      Hi Steven,
      I have put together a draft of a letter for local residents to use as a base to write to their local MLA’s if they feel inspired to do so by this issue.

      I don’t really know enough about this topic to flesh it out enough & have put it back to the rest of the Hackett Community Association to help add some detail/facts. I am heading away on 2 April till 14 April – I would like to have a copy loaded on this website & copies of the traffic proposals put up in the windows of the shop before I go if possible so that residents can be better informed & can start agitating politicians for the traffic lights.

      Residents need to be able to consider all options proposed, not just the latest 2 proposals.

      Can we discuss please?

      regards
      Harriet

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