Bridging Brisbane

One of Brisbane’s biggest assets is the Brisbane River.  It is also one of the region’s major challenges.  For mine – and it would appear to many others too – there isn’t enough river crossings in Brisbane.

I touched on this issue as few months back when I questioned the lack of public open space in inner Brisbane and this lack’s likely detrimental effect on future inner-city high-density residential development.

To revisit go here: Missing: Green Infrastructure 

That post received many replies, with several subscribers telling me about a recent RACQ study into the local population’s perception about building more bridges in Brisbane.

Go here to see the full RACQ results: Bridging Brisbane 

A quick summary

  • 4,600 people were surveyed by the RACQ in mid 2017
  • Most drove cars to work; reside in Brisbane’s western, eastern or inner-city suburbs; were aged between 35 and 64 years and were RACQ members.
  • Overall 12 Bridges (including the three associated with the Wilson Triple Jump) and two tunnels were considered.  Why these 12 river crossings were selected is outlined in the missive extra section at the end of this post and they are shown in the map below.

  • Overall there was very strong support (88%) to build more bridges.  See the table below.
  • The majority want to these bridges to support a range of transport modes including private vehicles.
  • Tolls, in some cases, were also considered a reasonable trade-off between the increased convenience and a way to help offset cost.

Brisbane bridge preferences 
Ranked by level of support

Bridge or tunnel Yes* No
7 West End to St Lucia 94% 6%
3 Centenary Motorway Upgrade 93% 7%
10 Wilson Triple Jump 92% 8%
8 West End to Toowong 90% 10%
1 Moggill Road 90% 10%
2 Bellbowrie to River Hills 90% 10%
11 Bulimba to Teneriffe 90% 10%
4 Walter Taylor Bridge 89% 11%
12 Hamilton to Balmoral 89% 11%
6 East West Link (Tunnel) 84% 16%
5 South West Tunnel 80% 20%
9 Victoria Bridge 69% 31%
Overall average 88% 12%
*Includes both percentage FOR and percentage NEUTRAL

End note

More river crossings would make life much easier for many Brisbane residents and also visitors to the city.  They could also help improve the region’s property values.

They would be much cheaper to supply than the big-ticket items like Cross River Rail and I reckon they would have far greater impact than the big-ticket items too.

There seems to be strong local public support for such infrastructure, yet whenever I have asked about building more bridges in Brisbane – which I have done in several public forums in recent years, including a gathering of five Brisbane Mayors – I have been shut down with the usual political stone walling.

Brisbane is often categorised as a “Lifestyle City” in typologies of world cities.  If that rings true – and I think that is a far better handle than the “New World City” pretence that is currently being flogged – then we best do something that really adds to resident’s lifestyle, which includes improving how most of us move around the joint.

If I was in charge, I commit funds to build all 12-river crossing as outlined above – over the next 25 years.  That’s one crossing every two years, starting from 2019.  Several of the current and proposed white elephants would have to go.  This would include Cross River Rail and the pitch of the 2032 Olympics.  Such is life.

We need things that work not pipe dreams.

Until next time,

Michael Matusik

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Missive Extra: Why these 12 river crossings?

All of the suggested river crossings have been identified in some form in planning documents developed by local, state and federal governments over the past 90 years.

The year after Brisbane’s formation, the 1926 Cross River Commission proposed a range of additional river crossings as the Victoria Bridge (1865, 1897, 1969) was at capacity. Bridges constructed after this included the William Jolly Bridge (1932), the Walter Taylor Bridge (1936) and the Story Bridge (1940). The original Centenary Bridge was completed in 1964. In 1965, the Brisbane Transportation Study identified a need for more cross-river capacity, resulting in the Captain Cook Bridge (1968) and the Gateway Bridge (1986) as well as the duplication of the Centenary Bridge (1987).

The 1989 Brisbane Traffic Study and other plans considered several new bridges for pedestrians, bicycle and buses, resulting in the Goodwill Bridge (2001), Eleanor Schonell Bridge (2006) and Kurilpa Bridge (2009). The TransApex proposal of 2004 resulted in the tolled Clem 7 tunnel (2010) and Go Between Bridge (2010). The Gateway Bridge was duplicated in 2012 to provide a high standard eastern bypass of Brisbane.

 

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