Bribie Islanders would, by now, have read the stories about the proposed designs for a new bridge to Bribie and would probably have received material in their mailbox about those proposed designs. And Bribie Islanders would also have received notices in their mailbox regarding information sessions being held by Department of Transport and Main Roads (DMR) and where Bribie Islanders can go to learn more about the proposed new bridge. Details fo those information sessions are attached.

The material received by MyBribieIsland spells out the great benefits this new bridge will bring. It will reduce commute times for those working off-island. It will eliminate traffic holdups for visitors coming to Bribie on busy days. It will eliminate congestion during special events such as concerts at the Sandstone Point Tavern. It will bring more visitors to Bribie and this will be good for business and that will be good for all of us. It replaces a bridge that is approaching its nominal end-of-life. And if Uncle Arthur needs to go to hospital urgently and there is an accident on one of the bridges, then he will still be able to get there on the other bridge.

In short, life on Bribie is going to be as exciting as life in a KFC commercial. Maybe even as exciting as life in a beer commercial.

While the material supplied by the DMR outlines some of the benefits a new bridge will bring. It is silent on a number of important issues. MBI recommends that Bribie Islanders attending these information sessions raise these issues and see if they can get any meaningful answers. Here are some questions that should be raised:

Traffic numbers: Where has DMR obtained the projected traffic numbers that justify this new bridge? Have any sensitivity studies been conducted by DMR to determine the impact of change in those numbers? Has any review of options been made that might reduce traffic volumes? Has DMR evaluated the impact of introducing park-and-ride options to reduce traffic for major events at Sandstone Point Hotel? Is that being pursued? If not, why not.

Public transport: There is no viable public transport on Bribie Island. What impact would a viable public transport system have on traffic numbers? Has DMR looked at this? If not, why not.

How many visitors: What are DMR’s projections for the increase in the number of visitors that a new bridge will bring to Bribie Island? If DMR has looked at traffic numbers, it must have looked at visitor numbers. Why aren’t they shown in the documents? This new bridge will double the traffic capacity. Will that double the number of visitors? Where will they go? Bribie Island has difficulty handling the current number of visitors on busy days. How will it cope with a doubling of visitors? What impact will that have on residents? Do Bribie Islanders really want to see a doubling of the number of visitors?

Where will the money come from: The Member for Pumicestone has advised that there will be no toll on this new bridge. The chances of the State Government paying for this out of general revenue are probably nil. It will have to be paid for by users. How will that happen? Will the State pay for this by land sales (like it did for the current bridge). If the DMR cannot (or will not) answer this question, then Bribie Islanders should demand an answer from the Member for Pumicestone. If this new bridge is to be paid for by land sales, that will all but double the population of Bribie Island. What impact will that have on residents? Is that what Bribie Islanders want?

Life of current bridge: Supposedly, the current bridge will come to its use-by date next decade and DMR tells us it needs to be replaced. It will be 70 years old by then. But that is not unusual for bridges. Sydney Harbour Bridge in nearing 100 years. Walter Taylor Bridge in Brisbane is 90 years old. The Brooklyn Bridge is 140 years old. And the Richmond Bridge in Hobart is almost 200 years old. What studies have been done to look at extending the life of the current bridge?

A new bridge does have many upside benefits and supporters of a new bridge draw great attention to those benefits. But a new bridge has lots of downsides – possible doubling of visitors, possible doubling of Bribie Island’s population, increased charges to pay for this new bridge, and impact on lifestyle and liveability of Bribie Island. Unfortunately, the DMR and our elected representatives are not telling us what those downsides are. Bribie Islanders have a right to know.

So go along to the information sessions and demand some answers.

Editor, MyBribieIsland