Bridging Brisbane: What would it mean for you?

We sat down with RACQ’s Paul Turner to drill down into what the new bridges and tunnels would mean for Brisbane:

Why exactly does Brisbane need more bridges around the city?

We are extremely lucky to have the iconic river flowing through our wonderful city. It is incredible to think we only have 13 river crossings that cater to cars, buses, pedestrians and cyclists in over 40km of river length, with most of these located within a small radius of Brisbane City.

It is clear for everyone to see we have more cars, cyclists, pedestrians and buses on our roads every single day and that is a key reason for us introducing our Bridging Brisbane survey.

We must act now. Brisbane’s population will continue to grow and new developments mean a high density of people so now is the time to reduce future congestion impacts by delivering corridors that the people of Brisbane and surrounding areas can utilise.

You have released the survey this weekend, why now?

Reducing congestion and improving liveability is critical and we want to start a conversation with residents and the government about how building infrastructure can achieve this. This is vital in growing our city and making it a liveable location in the future.

Why is it important to get a high response number to this survey?

The survey will establish levels of public support for each of the potential bridge locations, as well as the extent of support for walk, cycle, bus or general use bridges. A greater number of responses will provide a better indication of public support for various river crossing proposals around Brisbane.

What will happen to the survey results?

We’re not advocating on any single bridge option, but we will use the community responses collected from the survey to lobby the State Government and Brisbane City Council for future infrastructure projects.

Does RACQ have a favourite in the options provided?

The truth is that some options will have a higher value than others, but it is important we engage the community for feedback before engineers and economists do their work in costing the options and moving them forward.

The options we have identified have in fact been taken from previous planning documents and we urge the people of Brisbane to tell us what they would deem to be the best options.

Can you explain to us the importance of the Wilson Triple Jump?

The Wilson Triple Jump is inspired by an old proposal by R Martin Wilson, an Architectural Engineer and co-author of the original Cross River Report, commissioned by the state government and Brisbane City Council on its formation in 1925.

It’s a series of three bridges that adds an east-west bus, bicycle and pedestrian link between the CBD and the Kangaroo Point, New Farm and Bulimba peninsulas.

Although more expensive than a single bridge, the Wilson Triple Jump would reduce congestion on many existing roads, including Wynnum Road, the Story Bridge, Vulture Street, Stanley Street and the Captain Cook Bridge.

Without adding traffic to other corridors such as Ann and Wickham Streets, it would enable higher density development in the inner south and east suburbs as desired by the City Plan.

Can you explain the impacts the new bridges would have?

It is a fact that bridges reinvigorate suburbs and how people travel with the Eleanor Schonell Bridge at University of Queensland (UQ) is a perfect example.

It was the first bridge in Australia exclusively designed for buses, cyclists and pedestrians and now connects two areas that were traditionally difficult to travel between. And between 2002 and 2011 the number of students using public transport to attend university jumped from one quarter to more than 50 percent.

And despite UQ’s campus population increasing 27% over that same period, the demand for parking has remained steady which demonstrates the impact a well-located and designed bridge can have on an area, and the broader city. 

The economy is key; how much is congestion in Brisbane costing us?

This is going to sound extraordinary, but congestion in Brisbane is costing us $2.29 billion dollars a year.

I wish I could paint a brighter picture for the future but I can’t. It’s estimated that this will jump massively to $5.9 billion a year by 2030. (https://bitre.gov.au/publications/2015/is_074.aspx).

That’s why it’s critical that all levels of the government commit to congestion projects sooner rather than later.

Can you give an insight into any potential costings for these projects?

Cost estimates would be based on detailed engineering investigations but relevant comparisons for the two tunnels would be the Clem7 which cost $3.2 billion (4.8km) and Legacy Way tunnels (4.6km) which cost $1.5 billion.

Due to the length of the East-West Tunnel (6.3km) and a potential link with Toowong, this would land closer to Clem7 costs.

Due to the length of the South-West tunnel (up to 7.4km) and potential intermediate link with Sherwood Road, this would land closer to Clem7 costs.   

The Wilson Triple Jump would be delivered in three stages, and would likely be spread over many years.

The most relevant cost comparisons for each of the three bridges would be the Go Between Bridge which cost $338 million (including all the approach works and Coronation Drive westbound overpass).

What does this mean to you personally?

At the end of the day, I think Brisbane is a city that everyone should be proud of and we’re lucky to have an iconic river running through it. It shapes the way we travel and rather than being a barrier between communities, the river and its banks could offer more connections to improve our mobility.

Brisbane is only going to grow as more people move to our wonderful city and it is imperative we build the infrastructure needed to keep this city moving and to keep a high level of liveability.

Congestion is such a huge issue for our city. We have more cars, bike riders, pedestrians and buses on our roads every day and we need to act now to reduce future impacts. Projects such as Bridging Brisbane can help us put our best foot forward.

We have also called on the State Government to step up and prioritise key transport infrastructure projects when the 2017-18 Budget is handed down in June.