Five years ago, the proposal for a walking and cycling bridge from Toowong to West End was just a line on a Greens party flyer.
Fast forward to now and Council has committed to the creation of two green bridges, Toowong to West End and St Lucia to West End. I’m genuinely thrilled that together with Brisbane residents we’ve been able to push the LNP to adopt our plans for these new Green Bridges. They aren’t fully funded yet, and construction still won’t start until at least 2024, but it’s still a big moment. I think the State government should be partly funding both bridges, and I’ve proposed a Developer Tax on windfall profits that would help pay for infrastructure like this.
Back in 2020/2021, I consulted with the community about the proposed green bridge locations. You can find out more about this here.
Update: Green Bridges Delayed and Development Approved at ABC Site
In May 2022, Council announced they would be "pausing" the Green Bridge projects due to the financial impact of flood recovery. Then in June 2022, Council approved three apartment towers on the ABC site, including one on the proposed landing site for the Toowong-West End Green Bridge.
Since Council delayed delivery of the bridge, I was and am really concerned that they'll lose this landing site - which has the support of the community - if the developer starts building before they buy the land. The good news is that Council seems to confirm in this article that they still intend to buy the land for the green bridge, and have money set aside to do so in the next year.
This still doesn't quite explain why Council would go ahead and approve the DA anyway, and what they've done (if anything) to make sure they don't let this site slip through their fingers. We also don't know when the Green Bridges projects will recommence. I've asked for clarification on this and will keep you all posted.
Obviously what Council should have done, together with the State and even Federal Government, is buy back the whole ABC site for public use, including the bridge landing site. We know that's what thousands of local residents want. But since they seem determined to let a developer build apartments there instead, we need to hold them to account on at least delivering the bridges here as promised.
Council's Current Green Bridge Plans:
Toowong to West End Green Bridge
The Toowong bridge is a top priority, and I’m glad Council has agreed to start it first. It will link the Toowong train station, shopping centre and nearby apartments to Orleigh Park, the West End markets, the developing Montague Rd precinct and the frequent 199 and Blue CityGlider buses.
Links to and from the bridges are very important, so we need to make sure the private developer that now owns the ABC site delivers the new active transport connection to the riverfront Coronation Drive bikeway. We’ll also need proper cycling facilities on Archer St and Glen Rd. Those things aren’t explicitly part of the Council’s project, so I’ll be pushing to make sure they’re built.
It looks like the bridge will be pretty well-shaded all the way across, and will be a fairly gentle slope with no need to loop around. I’m also glad the designs have avoided impacts on the Cranbrook Place memorial site on the West End side.
There’s one really exciting part of the bridge design: a (small) new riverside park at the ABC site! As part of the Toowong to West End Green Bridge, Council has finally agreed to buy back part of the old ABC site to create a new riverfront park and plaza.
It’s not the whole site, but it’s a fair size wedge (about 2,000sqm, or 13% of the block), and significantly bigger than just what’s required for the bridge itself. The concept drawings show grassy terraces and shady places to enjoy the river.
Obviously I’ve been pushing for Council and the State government to work together to buy back the whole site, and many people receiving this email will have signed my petition to make that happen.
It’s still pretty amazing that our campaign has shifted the LNP Council from “no way, no how” to “OK, we’ll buy back land zoned for high rise and turn it into a park”.
It could also mean some pretty big changes to the development application plans lodged by the private developer that owns the ABC site, Consolidated Properties. They’ve proposed three 15 storey towers (more on this below), but the small new park accompanying the Toowong Green Bridge will most likely *replace* one of those three towers.
St Lucia to West End Green Bridge
Council has also released plans for the separate St Lucia to West End Green Bridge. I support this bridge, and our doorknocking survey found a majority of local residents surveyed support it as well.
If Council does build both bridges (and I hope they do) it could deliver a “two bridges” cycling/scooter route from Toowong to UQ via West End. I’ve been asking Council to consider this idea for a long time, and I’m happy to see that they have picked it up in their “preliminary business case summary”.
A “two bridges” route to replace the existing dangerous cycling route between Toowong and UQ would be amazing for local residents by cutting out lots of unnecessary short car trips that clog up local streets. You can read a bit more about the possible alternatives to fix this cycling connection in my post here.
We’ll need some more information from Council about the impacts on trees and public green space at Guyatt Park and Orleigh Park. The landing spot in Guyatt Park looks fairly sizeable, so it’s important that it doesn’t take out too much usable space. It looks like the landing zone would actually create a new viewing platform / riverfront plaza, but the drawings are a little vague at the moment. As I’ve said previously, any net loss of public green space should be offset by new parkland, ideally in Guyatt Park itself.
The St Lucia bridge will also need good links into the local area, including safe, separated bike lanes on Macquarie St, but Council haven’t proposed any yet. Over at the new Kangaroo Point Green Bridge, they have come up with some good improvements to fix the local cycling network, so I’m still hopeful.
Some folks have also raised concerns about increasing cycling movements through Guyatt Park, so the final design will need to make sure pedestrians and especially kids are safe. The park already sees many riders pass through on their way to university, so I’m also hopeful that can be managed.