Gungahlin Drive Extension

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Gungahlin Drive Extension
GDE / Gungahlin Drive
Australian Capital Territory
Gungahlin Drive Extension Logo.gif
GDE southbound, just after Ellenborough Street overpass.jpg
Gungahlin Drive heading southbound, just after Ellenborough Street overpass
General information
Type Parkway
Length 8.3 km (5.2 mi)
Maintained by Territory and Municipal Services
  • Stage 1 was completed in 2008
  • Stage 2 was completed in 2011.
Major junctions
North end
South end
Highway system
Highways in Australia
National HighwayFreeways in Australia
Road infrastructure in Canberra

The Gungahlin Drive Extension (or the GDE) is a freeway grade roadway, largely located in the Belconnen district of Canberra, Australia. It is 8.3 kilometres long and extended the previously existing Gungahlin Drive from the Barton Highway in the district of Gungahlin to the Glenloch Interchange to connect with the Tuggeranong Parkway, Parkes Way, and William Hovell Drive. Early in the planning stages, the GDE was to instead be designated the John Dedman Parkway.[1][2]

Route description[edit]

The GDE consists of two roads: the section of Gungahlin Drive located between Barton Highway and Belconnen Way, and Caswell Drive, located between Belconnen Way and the Glenloch Interchange. Caswell Drive was pre-existing but duplicated and upgraded as part of the works.[3]

The extension was originally opened with a speed limit of 80 km/h (50 mph), but after review was increased to 90 km/h (56 mph)[4]


Construction of the GDE at Belconnen Way and Caswell Dr

The Gungahlin Drive Extension project had its genesis in planning that emphasised the motor car as the primary means of travel in Canberra. This philosophy is shown in planning studies dating from the 1960s.

In 1991, the ACT Liberal Government began consultations for a John Dedman Parkway project, which would have gone from the Barton Highway to Belconnen Way. This project was subsequently renamed the Gungahlin Drive Extension, with the road proceeding to the Glenloch Interchange.

This Gungahlin Drive Extension route and the Majura Road upgrading (between the Monaro Highway and Federal Highway), are two transport routes that are on the drawing board as north-south routes. Some consider the GDE route as a crucial link in Canberra's transport network while others consider it a white elephant and support other transport alternatives, such as light rail between Gungahlin and Civic.

The ACT Labor Government won election in 2001 promising a GDE alignment that would travel west of the Australian Institute of Sport AIS. However, the Commonwealth Government's National Capital Authority decided in December 2002 to support an alignment east of the AIS as the preferred route. On 16 January 2003 the ACT Government fell in with the NCA and decided to investigate options for an Eastern Alignment for GDE in the vicinity of the AIS, as well as reviewing options for the alignment in the Aranda Precinct. Supporters of natural parkland campaigned to have the road building stopped - staging a number of demonstrations. However the ACT Government determined that the road be built, and subsequently changed the law to prevent further opposition from community groups.

When the GDE was completed it was controversial as the road was originally built to a 2-lane standard rather than four; leaving southbound and northbound commuters with lengthy delays each morning and afternoon.

Work commenced in October 2009 to widen the 2 lane sections to 4 lanes as originally planned. The area near the south bound lanes leading into the Glenloch interchange was the first area to be widened as this area bears the heaviest traffic load during peak times.

The road has now been completed to a 4 lane freeway standard.


When the Gungahlin Drive Extension plans were made public, there were protests by various groups in order to stop or delay work on the road. The main protests came from a group called "Save The Ridge". This group were angry about the destruction of the flora and fauna that would occur with the GDE running through the Bruce / O'Connor Ridge. Meanwhile, another group called GDE Now! was formed, with a slogan 'Pave the Ridge'.

In 2004 Save The Ridge had a legal victory with the ACT Government in relation to local planning laws. The ACT Government then passed a new law with the purpose of overriding further legal challenges at the local level.

In 2005 Save The Ridge took the ACT Government and the National Capital Authority to the Federal Court of Australia in a further effort to have the project shut down. In September 2005 the Federal Court ruled in favour of the NCA and the ACT Government, giving the go-ahead for the project to resume.

On 10 December 2006, during Stage 1 of the GDE opening, Save The Ridge again protested against the road, and called for an immediate halt to the rest of the construction taking place. They called the GDE "one of the most expensive non tunnelled single lane roads per kilometre in Australia's history."

Bridge collapse[edit]

GDE Bridge after the collapse

On 14 August 2010, the eastern duplication bridge of the GDE, over the Barton Highway, partially collapsed. The new bridge was under construction when it collapsed. ACT Police, ACT Ambulance Service and the ACT Fire Brigade attended the scene and freed one man who was trapped under the rubble. At least 9 people were taken to the Canberra Hospital for treatment and another 5 were injured however there were no critical injuries, all those affected were working on a new span of the bridge. The Barton Highway and northern GDE were closed for several hours as investigations commenced.[5][6]

The Barton Highway was reopened on 9 September 2010 after investigations and removal of the collapsed bridge.[7]

Construction on the second span started afresh at the end of December 2010 with all contractors taking on board the recommendations made by ACT Workcover relating to worker safety and materials to ensure that the collapse of the old span is not repeated.


The GDE has multiple interchanges along its length providing access to suburbs and facilities in the Gungahlin and Belconnen districts as well as the Inner North, there are links to several arterial roads.[8][9]

District Location km mi Destinations Notes
Gungahlin, Belconnen Mitchell, Kaleen 0 0.0 Barton Highway (A25) northwest-southeast / Gungahlin Drive northeast  – City, Hall, Yass, North Canberra, Gungahlin Modified diamond interchange, signal-controlled access onto Barton Highway;
GDE Terminus: continues northeast as Gungahlin Drive
Belconnen Kaleen, Bruce 2.3 1.4 Ginninderra Drive  – Lyneham, North Canberra, Belconnen, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra Stadium Diamond interchange, signal-controlled access onto Ginninderra Drive
Belconnen, Canberra Central Bruce, Aranda 5.1 3.2 Belconnen Way  – City, Belconnen, Calvary Hospital Freeway-over SPUI, with additional U-turn ramps. Northbound access to Bandjalong Crescent via U-Turn at this exit;
End: Gungahlin Drive; Start: Caswell Drive
Belconnen Aranda 5.7 3.5 Bandjalong Crescent  – Aranda Partial diamond interchange, no northbound exit, also linked to on/offramps of Belconnen Way interchange.
Belconnen, Molonglo Valley, Canberra Central 8.3 5.2 Tuggeranong Parkway south / Parkes Way east / William Hovell Drive west - (all via Glenloch Interchange)  – City, Woden, Tuggeranong, Belconnen Modified partial three-level turbine interchange, no eastbound to northbound ramp, no southbound to westbound ramp;
End: Caswell Drive; GDE Terminus: continues south as Tuggeranong Parkway.
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]


External links[edit]