In February this year, the State Government unveiled its proposed designs for a second bridge to Bribie Island. It held a number of information sessions at the RSL where the public could come along and view the proposed designs, ask questions, and give input. Details of those sessions and information that was provided can be found at https://www.yoursay-projects.tmr.qld.gov.au/bribie-island-bridge

So what happened at those sessions? Here is some of the feedback that was given to MyBribieIsland:

The acoustics in the room were awful. There was no PA system and this made it very difficult to follow the presenters

Some attendees commented that too many attendees did not seem interested in hearing about the proposed design. Too many just wanted to give their opinions and kept interrupting the presenters. This made it very difficult to get an appreciation of the design.

The proposal includes a new two-lane bridge that would be higher and wider than the existing bridge. This would be for east-bound traffic coming to Bribie Island. It would include greatly expanded space for cyclists and walkers.

The existing bridge would be retained for west-bound traffic leaving Bribie.

The existing bridge does not have any significant structural issues. It is inspected on a regular basis by structural specialists and some remedial work has been undertaken over the years to address some corrosion issues. These regular inspections will continue so that the bridge can continue safely in use. Although the existing bridge is 60 years old, there are no end-of-life predictions for it. There are many bridges much older than this. Sydney Harbour Bridge, for instance, is almost 100 years old.

The design is based on traffic projections from the Department of Transport. These projections show that the existing bridge is perfectly adequate for the traffic from the present Bribie Island population and for the projected future population of the Island. The congestion on the existing bridge is primarily caused by 4WD and visitor traffic including traffic from special events (such a rock concerts and rodeos at the Sandstone Point Hotel).

No studies will be undertaken on options to reduce traffic numbers (such as improving public transport or introducing park-and-ride options for major events or revisiting the present tourism model).

The new bridge will be paid from Queensland Government’s general revenue. It will not be paid for by land release as happened for the existing bridge. Nor will there be a toll on the bridge. This is similar to the position taken by the Newman Government when it announced support for a new bridge to Bribie back in 2012.

At the conclusion of the February sessions, there were a number of commitments made:
To review the feedback that had been received
To incorporate that feedback into the proposed design (if appropriate)
To upgrade the engineering design drawings to allow better cost estimates
To put forward those estimates for potential inclusion in the May budget

On July 2, 2024 the Government released a joint statement about this new bridge from the Premier, the Treasurer and the Minister for Transport and Main Roads. This statement advised that the Government had included an amount of $700 million in the budget projections to cover the cost of a new bridge. The announcement comments that…… “the new bridge is a key element of delivering four lanes for traffic along the entire length of Caboolture–Bribie Island Road”. There is no mention of costs for the four-lane expansions on Bribie Island Road. Presumably, those costs are in addition to the $700 million. More details can be found at https://statements.qld.gov.au/statements/100736

Comments in the Press on the proposed new bridge have been quite varied but have been overwhelmingly negative. Particularly from those who do not live on Bribie Island. Here are just a few:

“Bli Bli bridge is just as necessary”….. Dan Purdie, Member for Ninderry, July 3
“(This Government)…. will do anything to win an election including backflipping on their past record for the Bribie Bridge … it’s just trying to save a seat”….. Jarrod Bleijie, Deputy Opposition Leader, July 3
“Selfish pathetic vote grab”…. Courier Mail, July 3
“Fury erupts after Bribie bridge pledge while (the) north has to do with (the) decrepit crossing of the Barron River”… Cairns Post, July 3
There are more important projects….. feedback in Townsville Bulletin, July 2
“Shameless pork-barrelling”… Hayden Johnson in Gold Coast Bulletin, July 2
“Totally unfunded and totally unnecessary”….. Townsville Bulletin, July 2
“Barron or Bribie – FNQ election battle lines being drawn”…Sally Gall, Queensland Country Life, July 8

The business case for this new bridge has still to be completed. Some of the justifications for the bridge that are commonly given are:

Medical emergency when the bridge is closed: If the bridge is blocked as a result of a traffic incident, then ambulances would not be able to get residents to hospital in an emergency. A new bridge would ensure ambulances had the ability to be able to come to Bribie and leave at any time 24/7. However, the new Bribie Island “hospital” will have the ability to treat and triage medical emergencies. If that emergency capacity could be made available 24/7, would that eliminate this need for a second bridge? What would that cost?

Population increase: The population of Bribie Island will undoubtedly increase. Perhaps as much as 50% in the next decade or so. But the Department of Transport team advised at the February sessions that the capacity of the existing bridge was sufficient for current and projected future populations.

Current bridge is approaching its end-of-life: The Department of Transport team advised there are no plans to replace this bridge. It can be safely used for some time to come.

Tourist traffic: Tourists coming to Bribie need to get around by car as there is no viable public transport on Bribie. If some meaningful public transport were available, would this reduce traffic numbers? An “on-demand” bus system is one of the options being explored in the study of transport options that is currently in progress. Would this reduce traffic numbers?

Beach driving: There are currently no restrictions on numbers of vehicles that can travel on Bribie’s beaches. There are no restrictions on when those vehicles can travel either. The recently-released report on beach driving that was completed for the Department of Environment (DES) by EarthCheck, strongly recommends that there be a reduction in numbers allowed on the beach. In its annual reports, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services (QPWS) has consistently commented that the current beach driving traffic is “unsustainable”. A number of advocacy groups are calling for a total ban on beach driving because of the negative impacts it has on fauna, flora and the environment. Will DES go ahead and reduce vehicle numbers as recommended by EarthCheck? Or will DES go ahead with restrictions on time and numbers as have been implemented on Cable Beach at Broome? Or will DES go ahead with a total ban as has occurred in other jurisdictions like Victoria and South Africa? What impact will changes like these have on traffic numbers on the bridge?

Special events: The events that have greatly impacted traffic numbers in recent years are the concerts and other special events at the Sandstone Point Hotel (SPH). All people attending those concerts have to come by car. There is no public transport and SPH has strongly resisted any encouragements to implement a park-and-ride option. Is a park-and-ride option viable? Would it reduce the traffic concerns? Will these concerts continue to be allowed by the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR)? Is it reasonable for the public to find $700 million to solve a problem created, in part, by private commercial interests?

So what do readers think? Does a business case exist for a bridge costing $700 million? Are there any cheaper, viable options to solve the traffic issues? Could this $700 million be better spent on education, health, domestic violence prevention, and other much-needed services?



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