It will go down as one of the most controversial construction projects in the history of the ACT, with the cost of the Gungahlin Drive Extension sitting at almost $200 million - or about $22 million a kilometre.
Gungahlin residents were celebrating yesterday's full opening of the four-lane, 9km road after seven years of construction, but some remained jaded - ''hoo-bloody-ray'' was one comment on the Facebook page for the local community body.
The $199 million road, connecting the Barton Highway to Glenloch Interchange, has been plagued by environmental protests, court injunctions, a bridge collapse, even concerns it would affect athletes at the Australian Institute of Sport if it came too close.
Roads ACT director Tony Gill has previously said the Government would have saved at least $20 million if it had built the four-lane road all in one go, rather than building a two-lane road and then duplicating it.
Even the announcement of the duplication was shrouded in intrigue, made by the Government in the midst of the 2008 election campaign the night before the Opposition was to go public with its own pledge to build a four-lane road.
Gungahlin Community Council spokesman Alan Kerlin said he was grateful the road was opened but questioned why it could not be 90km/h to 100km/h on the section from Mitchell to the Glenloch Interchange. ''It's the only four-lane divided road out of Gungahlin and it seems a little counterproductive to have such an important road throttled down to 80km/h,'' he said.
Roads ACT major capital works acting manager Ben McHugh said under the original design plans for the GDE, the road had a 90km/h speed limit but that had been reviewed last year ''following concerns about a lack of consistency of speed limits along the route''.
Mr Kerlin said millions of dollars of ratepayers' money was unnecessarily spent on duplicating the road because ''John Hargreaves, when he was transport minister, wouldn't listen when we said two lanes wouldn't be enough''.
Mr Hargreaves said yesterday he couldn't recall the council telling him the road should be four lanes. He said the Government always intended to build four lanes but didn't have the money to do it.
He said delays caused by legal challenges against the road and the subsequent rise in cost of materials had added about $23 million to Stage1 of the road.
''The reason I said to proceed with it was we needed people to get on that road as quickly as possible, even if it was one lane for a period of time,'' he said.
Stage 1 of the road was delayed for more than 18 months by legal challenges from protest group Save the Ridge which argued that a proper environmental assessment of the road - which cut through Canberra Nature Park - was never done. The group was granted injunctions in the ACT Supreme Court but the Federal Court in September, 2005 cleared the way for the roadworks to restart.
The Government originally rejected the eastern route that went through O'Connor Ridge but its preferred route on a western alignment was defeated because of opposition from bodies including the National Capital Authority and AIS, which was concerned about the impact of noise and air pollution from the road on its athletes.
A bridge under construction on the GDE also collapsed last year.