The new tunnel will provide drivers with an alternative to local roads for efficiency and better access, writes Lord Mayor Graham Quirk.

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk

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Last week I inspected Legacy Way, Brisbane’s $1.5 billion traffic tunnel project that will connect the Western Freeway at Toowong with the Inner City Bypass at Kelvin Grove. Once it opens to motorists in 2015, Legacy Way will reduce traffic congestion and almost halve peak hour travel times between the Centenary Bridge and the Inner City Bypass.

Our city is now at the centre of one of the fastest growing regions in Australia and this essential infrastructure project will deliver great benefits for residents in Brisbane, Ipswich and beyond who commute to the CBD or travel to the airport.

It will make Brisbane, the Brisbane airport and the wider south-east Queensland region more accessible. It will provide the quickest link to Brisbane’s airport, more than 10 kilometres shorter than alternative routes via the Ipswich, Logan and Gateway Motorways.

We expect that once Legacy Way opens more than 129,000 kilometres of vehicle travel will be taken off arterial roads every day, including Milton Road and Coronation Drive.

Work in progress

Work on Legacy Way is now three-quarters complete, with the road base laid and underground substations fully constructed. Construction is currently underway for the mechanical and electrical fit-out of the Legacy Way twin tunnels. In the months ahead, tunnel work will include installing fans for ventilation and smoke control, as well as cameras, signs, lighting and public address systems. Works to finalise road paving, line marking and installation of barriers in the twin tunnels will be undertaken prior to the 2015 opening.

Expanding the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens

As tunnel work continues, four hectares of the above-ground western worksite at Toowong will be transformed into an expansion of the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens. This will be the largest upgrade to the gardens since its opening in 1970. The expansion of the gardens will feature a new interactive kitchen garden, amphitheatre, forest walk, nature-themed playground, picnic facilities and large lagoon. Approximately 20,000 plants will be introduced which are all native to Queensland, including rare and threatened species from across the State. A new 18 megalitre lagoon will help to drought-proof the gardens and will allow for water harvesting for the gardens.

Flow-on benefits

The construction of Legacy Way has provided a great boost to our city, supporting around 5100 jobs over the life the project, and is expected to provide $10.5 billion in flow-on benefits for the greater Brisbane region. Brisbane City Council has provided $1 billion to build Legacy Way, with the Australian Government committing $500 million. More information about the project is online at