A deal to lease tolling rights could kick start vital road upgrades

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk

Got a problem in your suburb that needs fixing? email me at lordmayor@bmag.com.au

Reducing traffic congestion is one of my top priorities and that’s why I am focussed on improving the city’s road network, completing new corridor studies road upgrades and intersection safety improvements. Brisbane is a growing city and over the next two decades, an additional 820,000 people are expected to settle in metropolitan Brisbane, bringing the total population to almost three million.

Earlier this year, I announced a new major initiative has been proposed, which could help improve traffic flow on two of Brisbane’s busiest roads.We’ve now reached agreement with Queensland Motorways to fund future infrastructure projects in Brisbane by granting the right to toll, operate and maintain the Go Between Bridge and Legacy Way tunnel. This is a 50 year agreement, delivering Council between $1.08 billion and $1.58 billion over the next seven years. I intend to use this money to start more congestion-busting projects – specifically the Kingsford Smith Drive and Wynnum Road upgrades. The beauty of this deal is that council ratepayers will still retain ownership of the Legacy Way tunnel and Go Between Bridge assets.

At the end of the 50 year deal, council will receive the assets back in good condition. I’ve always said that Kingsford Smith Drive is this city’s next major infrastructure project and as a result of this deal, we can bring forward the $650 million upgrade which will see the road widened to six lanes via a retaining wall built along the river’s edge. Additionally, the Wynnum Road corridor is experiencing increased traffic volumes with about 56,000 per day and is the next area of Brisbane requiring a significant road infrastructure upgrade. We are the only government I know of in Australia last year to get an upgrade in their credit rating outlook, so we are in a strong financial position to bring these road projects forward.

I think council’s conservative traffic volume estimate for Legacy Way of 24,000 vehicles per day when it opens in 2015 is realistic and it is well below the 30,000 per day Clem7 receives and the 55,000-60,000 vehicles that travel each day on Airport Link. But this is not a done deal yet, it is still subject to approval by council at its next meeting on 30 July, plus approval from the state and federal governments. This proposal will not only see vital road projects brought forward, but also create much-needed jobs and investment in the construction sector.

Queensland Motorways taking control of the daily operations of the Legacy Way tunnel and Go Between Bridge will also save ratepayers $650 million in costs over the next seven years alone. Under the agreement, Queensland Motorways would also pay Council for the tolling rights to the two roads via a series of payments, as well as a potential share in toll revenue.

As seen in bmag issue 262