It’s often hard to get a straightforward and timely answer to this simple question… is Coppins Crossing open right now?
This increasingly important arterial link carrying ~6,000 vehicles a day, regularly gets flooded and closed after a bit of rain, but it’s difficult to know when it’s closed because of poor communications from authorities and hopeless signage.
Make a report
If you’ve got reliable information on the current status of the crossing, make a report to this site so that others can find out.
Other Info sources
New bridge due*
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Water level at Coppins Crossing
Road closures appear to be triggered when the river level rises above 2.2 metres.
The bridge at Coppins Crossing is flooded when river level rises above 2.7 metres.
What’s the problem?
Coppins Crossing Road was once a backroad between Belconnen and Weston Creek with not a whole lot in-between. Now it’s a busy arterial road with rapidly growing suburbs on either side of the Molonglo River generating at least 6,000 vehicle movements per day.
To the South are Coombs, Wright and Denman Prospect, now home to ~10,000 people with more to come. To the North, Whitlam will soon be home to around 5,000 people. There’s also a lot of construction traffic going to/from these new suburbs over Coppins Crossing bridge. Ultimately, the Molonglo Valley district will house around 55,000 people with no major employment or retail centres planned, meaning arterial road access will be vitally important.
While much of Coppins Crossing Road has been transformed into the 4-lane John Gorton Drive, around 2km of it is still a narrow and windy 2-lane road which crosses the Molonglo River as a floodway.
When the river level rises to a trigger point (well below the road level), the road is closed and people must detour via the Tuggeranong Parkway, which means more time spent driving, more time waiting in traffic and more fuel consumption with resultant emissions.
When the road is closed, there’s often little public notice (before or afterwards) and signage either side of the closure is not sufficient to prevent many vehicles reaching the actual closure points before needing to turn around, often on the narrow 2-lane road which isn’t ideal.
Until the new bridge is built, Coppins Crossing needs:
- Better closure warning signage
- Multiple illuminated signs on each approach to the crossing, between 500m and 5km away.
- Better flood response plan
- Have teams, equipment, contracts and materiels ready to go as soon as the water subsides and the bridge is declared safe to use.
- Better turning opportunities
- Especially for the many large vehicles using the crossing such as buses and articulated trucks.
- Permit legal U-turns at intersections on each side of the crossing.
- Better communications from road authorities about closures and re-openings
- Real-time updates via Twitter, Email, Website, Broadcast Media and roadside signage.
The current 2-lane section of Coppins Crossing Road also needs regular maintenance to prevent it from falling apart under increasing traffic loads. Potholes regularly appear and the shoulder is failing in many places.
* The ACT Government has know of this problem for some time and is slowly moving towards construction of a new high-level bridge, due to be completed and open to traffic by the end of 2025. Earlier plans had the bridge being completed by 2021 or even 2018.
- #1 2020 – August ~7 days: Significant damage done to the bridge railing, fixed in June 2022.
- #2 2021 – March ~8 days: Another significant build-up of drift wood which was only cleared in April 2022. Patching done to road during closure.
- #3 2021 – July/August: Short closure
- #4 2021 – October 1-5 (4 days)
- #5 2021 – November 14-16 (3 days)
- #6 2021 – November 25-27 (2 days)
- #7 2021 – December 11-12 (1 day) – Significant patching done to road around this time.
- #8 2022 – January 15-16 (1 day) – Road not actually flooded
- #9 2022 – February 26-27 (1 day) – Road not actually flooded
- #10 2022 – March 6-7 (1 day)
- #11 2022 – May 12-13 (15 hours)
- #12 2022 – August 4-19 (15 days) – River reached 4.31m, new upstream bridge railing destroyed. Cleaned-up in 1 day, more than 10 days after flood waters receeded.
- #13 2022 – October 7-10 (3 days) – Water peaked at 3.62m on 9 Oct, about 1m over bridge. Temporary concrete barriers on upstream side seemingly un-damaged.
- #14 2022 – October 22-24 (2.5 days) – Water peaked at 3.17m
- #15 2022 – October 31-November 5 (5 days) – Closed due to heavy rain. Concrete barriers displaced, fixed on a Saturday!
- 2022 – March 4: Remaining 2-Lane section of Coppins Crossing completely re-sealed, some holes in bridge deck patched.
- 2022 – March 12: Local media outlet The RiotACT reported on this issue.
- 2022 – March 16: 4 Temporary electronic signs appeard on approaches to bridges. Now just one remains on each approach.
- 2022 – April 2: Road closure to clear flood debris, much of it there since extended floods in 2020 and 2021.
- 2022 – May-June: Repair of bridge railing broken during floods in August 2020.
- 2022 – August: New railing destroyed in flood.
- 2022 – August: ABC Canberra, The RiotACT & Canberra Times covered the issue.
- 2022 – October 16: Car crash on northern approach to Coppins Crossing, 3 people killed, 2 injured.
Sunday 16 October 2022: 3 dead, 2 injured in crash on Coppins Crossing Rd