In March 2021, Brisbane City Council (Council) stated that they were starting a pre-feasibility study to duplicate the Walter Taylor Bridge. This was confirmed in the recently released 2021/22 budget, where Council committed $156,000 towards the study.
My initial thoughts were that we’d need some pretty compelling evidence that a second bridge would actually relieve traffic in the area rather than shift the bottle neck further up the road. Council has a history of recklessly spending billions of dollars on building new roads that do nothing to ease congestion or fix traffic gridlock - the widening of Lytton Rd and Kingsford Smith Drive are two recent examples.
We won’t have any indication of how much this bridge would cost until the full feasibility study is conducted, however we can expect it to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. I reckon that money could be better spent on things that could actually improve congestion in the long run by reducing the number of cars on the roads, rather than just creating an extra road for cars to fill. For example, investing in better buses and bike lanes in Sherwood, Tennyson, Chelmer and Corinda, a quicker connection between Indooroopilly and UQ, and re-opening the Tennyson train line for commuters.
Essentially, I reckon this whole project is a waste of taxpayer money. Even the existing documents reveal the proposal wouldn’t improve traffic.
In July I obtained Council documents under RTI including:
1. Modelling of traffic congestion shows that duplicating the bridge would not improve traffic; in fact, it'd simply shift the bottleneck, creating 2 new congestion points: Indooroopilly at Westminster/Lambert Rd and another further south on Oxley Rd and Sherwood Rd.
2. A map showing current traffic over a 24 hour period suggests the bridge is used primarily for local travel and does not play a significant role getting people to the CBD. Most of the current trips on the bridge also follow the now-dormant Tennyson train line from Yeerongpilly to Corinda. That means reopening the train line could make a really big dent in traffic. Better buses and bike lanes in Sherwood and Corinda would also help a lot, as would a quicker connection between Indooroopilly and UQ.
This shouldn't be surprising - building more roads just means more people will drive rather than catching the train.
I still think the feasibility study is a waste of taxpayer money, but since it's happening I'll be pushing for as much transparency in the process as I can, and for it to include proper community consultation. I'll continue to oppose building a new bridge for cars, and instead push for better public and active transport.
Documents obtained via RTI: