In May, after receiving over 4000 submissions, Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner revealed the landing sites for the proposed two new green bridges to West End.

Cr Schrinner said that the alignment options to be progressed by Council would be the proposed Option A for both bridges. Option A for the St Lucia bridge runs between Guyatt Park and Orleigh Park at Morry Street and the Toowong Bridge, from Coronation Drive to Forbes Street in West End.

The Westender asked local community groups and cycling and walking advocacy organisations to reflect on Council’s decisions and received quite a mixed response.

Not surprisingly, the active transport advocacy groups, who campaigned vigorously for the bridges, are relatively happy with the selected landing sites, even where the landing is not their first choice. The important thing for them is the decision to proceed with the bridges.

However, responses from community and residents’ groups range from general to lukewarm support to outright opposition.

Toowong Bridge first, St Lucia to follow

In its response to the community, Council acknowledged that there is less support for the St Lucia to West End Bridge, and it said it will stage the construction of the bridges, starting with the Toowong Bridge.

Kurilpa Futures told the Westender it acknowledges Council’s response to community concerns about the proposed bridges in its consultation report.

“It is pleasing that the threat of forced residential property resumption has been removed, and that a staged approach has been adopted so that issues arising from the construction of the Toowong bridge can inform the later St Lucia bridge.”

However, Kurilpa Futures said there is little evidence in the consultation report that Council will directly address significant concerns raised by the group around offsetting lost parkland and addressing road congestion.

“Ultimately it is overdevelopment that places increasing pressure on communities and continues to be approved by Council; it is not acceptable that this central planning issue remains unaddressed.”

Deborah Scott and John Brannock of the St Lucia Residents Association query whether Council has made its case for the St Lucia bridge.

“What is the business case for the St Lucia bridge? What problem does it solve or what disamenity does it repair?”

Elizabeth Handley of Park It in Toowong says, “We would hope that a staged development of the bridges would prove whether the additional bridge at St Lucia is required or whether it would be better sited elsewhere.”

Belinda Ward said Space for Cycling supported both of the selected options in their submission to Council, and are happy with the announcement.  She said the bridges are primarily, for commuters, not recreational cyclists.

“These kinds of bridges make connections that would have been difficult or inconvenient, or not within reach.”

While the community groups are generally pleased that the Toowong Bridge will proceed before the St Lucia Bridge, the cycling groups would like to see both bridges constructed simultaneously.

“We can see both bridges built together because we think there’s extra value in the network effect of having multiple bridges,” Ms Ward said.

Andrew Demack, Director of Advocacy at Bicycle Queensland, said that while Option A for the St Lucia Bridge was not their first choice, Bicycle Queensland still thinks it is a good bridge to build.

Mr Demack said Bicycle Queensland see the bridges as a high priority investment for the city “because they will help to make both West End and St Lucia better places to walk, ride and move around.”

“While the bridges are expensive, they are an element of building a city that moves away from the traditional “car first” model,” Mr Demack said.

Bicycle Queensland is keen that Council moves ahead with the Toowong Bridge as soon as they can secure the funds.


Loss of greenspace remains a crucial sticking point for Kurilpa Futures, Friends of Guyatt Park, and the relatively new Save Orleigh Park group.

Kurilpa Futures claims that language in Council’s report such as “enhancing” and “where feasible… achieve….net benefit” is too vague to be meaningful, and they want Council to address the loss of mature trees in its business cases for the bridges.

“Loss of greenspace on both sides of the river remains an important concern which should be addressed at the same time as the refinement of bridge landings and design. Kurilpa Futures strongly requests a no net loss approach, with a preference for local offsetting as an explicit requirement in the expected detailed business cases seeking funding from State and Federal governments,” a Kurilpa Futures spokesperson said.

While Queensland Walks welcomes Council’s commitment to build the bridges, they have also raised concerns about the potential loss of greenspace and significant trees.

“We therefore have called for more detail and discussions on the proposed alignment,” Queensland Walks CEO Anna Campbell said.

Ms Ward of Space for Cycling said she thinks Council still has some work to do with Guyatt Park.

“I think a lot of the opposition to the bridge landings was because it was drawn as landing right in the middle of the park where there are some mature trees and play equipment, and everyone went, “well, that’s going to be horrible”. But I think there are options to design a much friendlier amendment in that park, that would not be as disruptive. I think that’s really a question of good design.”

Friends of Guyatt Park are not prepared to make any concessions for offsetting the loss of greenspace.

“Where there’s a general expectation that we will lie down and have our tummies tickled and talk about how we can minimise the impact on Guyatt Park, we’re not prepared to do that at this stage,” Friends of Guyatt Park spokesman, David Pincus said.

Mr Pincus said the Friends of Guyatt Park consider that the consultation process was flawed because people who are most impacted by the bridges are the people who use Guyatt Park. Many, he said, are not aware of the proposal to land the bridge in the park.

“We feel that rather than cooperating, there are two big steps before the bridge would be built. One of them is that time will pass, and there will be a change of administration, a change in financial conditions, etc. And there’s quite a good chance that in the number of years’ time somebody else might have another look at the whole situation and ask, “is there a better use of $100 to $200 million than to build a bridge on the park?”, and that would particularly be the case if the State and if the Federal government is involved.”

Mr Pincus said the group intends to canvass the relevant parties at the State and Federal levels and tell them that they will continue to survey people who use the park.

The group will hold a public meeting in Guyatt Park on 2 June to “Regroup Reunite Rethink”.

The nearby St Lucia Residents’ Association also remains concerned by the impact on Guyatt Park.

“For the St Lucia bridge there should be river facing park space, very close to, or contiguous with Guyatt Park.  A non-adjacent landlocked park to replace the riverfront lost would be inadequate.”

Friends of Guyatt Park might also have an ally across the river in the Save Orleigh Park group.

Riverpoint complex, home to 700 residents, sits directly in front of the Toowong bridge landing near Forbes Street in West End. The chair of its Body Corporation and member of the relatively newly formed Save Orleigh Park group, Peter Betros, says the group is disappointed with the outcome of the consultation process.

“We don’t believe that our opinion was given enough weight about where the bridges would finally finish. Considering we’re the ones that are the most affected, our voice seemed to carry the same weight as somebody who’s not affected at all.”

Mr Betros says that while they are also concerned about congestion in Forbes Street, the big issue for them now, is Orleigh Park and what will happen to it.

“There are some magnificent trees there. And that’s what we really worrying about now: the impact on trees, which we believe are over 100 years old.”

“Council is taking existing greenspace away for these two bridges that a lot of the community don’t think are required. We don’t even know who’s going to use them. They tell us 1000s of moments a day but honestly, I don’t know where they got those figures from.”

The decision by Council to support a bridge from the ABC site on Coronation Drive to Forbes Street in West End has been the most positively received of the options, and some argue, offers a solution to greenspace loss elsewhere.

Elizabeth Handley of Park It in Toowong said the proposed Toowong to West End Green Bridge provides the rare opportunity to create an iconic legacy.

“A green bridge with additional park and recreation space would capitalise on the last sizeable riverside property in Toowong for the people of Brisbane to enjoy in perpetuity. It is a welcome investment into key infrastructure (active transport connections, park, and recreation facilities) to service and link growing neighbourhoods.”

“With the landing sites of these two bridges affecting already squeezed parkland in West End, Toowong and St Lucia, the ABC site should definitely be purchased as a park for the wider Brisbane community. These suburbs are desperately in need of green space due to increased density.  All levels of government must deliver on this vital community need. They agreed to a vast increase in density in these areas, now deliver the community benefit side of that densification equation,” Ms Handley said.

West End Community Association (WECA) supports the call by the Park It group in Toowong for the whole of the former ABC site to be set aside for parkland to offset the loss of greenspace elsewhere.

“Resuming the whole former ABC site for new riverside parkland, rather than only part of it for a bridge landing, is widely supported in the community and will create new greenspace accessible to residents from both sides of the river,” Cameron Murray for WECA said.

Local Greens representatives Councillor Jonathan Sri and Michael Berkman MP have also put a case for purchasing the entire former ABC site for parkland to both Council and the State Government.

Access, connections, and demand

For some, questions remain about how Council is justifying the bridges.

“We haven’t seen any business plans about whether it’s an actual need for it or not. If the Council is determined to build it, well, we have to accept that. And our local members from the same political party, were strongly in favour of it,” said Mr Betros of Save Orleigh Park.

Kurilpa Futures says the report is unclear about what traffic congestion the bridges are proposed to alleviate.

“It is also surprising that despite UQ being a transport destination accessed by the bridges, so few responses were received from those “studying in the area”.”

St Lucia Residents Association says for the bridge to work effectively, Council should provide evidence that UQ, the largest employer within the St Lucia cycle catchment, would be properly served by a bridge located over a kilometre from the centre of the university precinct.

“The evidence should include a cost-benefit analysis. If the cost-benefit analysis is positive, it can then be compared against other scenarios with landings at the edge of campus. However, it is unlikely that any cost-benefit would be positive.”

Like other groups, the St Lucia Residents Association is also concerned about access to the bridges and upgrading roads that form part of the transport network. They think the business case for the bridges should address greenspace for the community, access to the bridges, and design issues.

“Should there be a lift at the St Lucia end given the likely height required to accommodate the CityCat?”

“If transit to UQ is the goal, what infrastructure will be created at the St Lucia end to relieve the already overburdened Macquarie Street and Sir Fred Schonell Drive?  Many of our members would consider extra cycle and pedestrian traffic relying on those streets in their existing configuration would not be acceptable.”

“Review of the social impact of an increase in the number of cyclists along Macquarie Street should be undertaken as well, due the already high level of concern with existing cyclists who access UQ via a tortuous route from the end of the Bicentennial Bikeway.”

West End Community Association (WECA) spokesperson Cameron Murray said, “just like you wouldn’t build a vehicle bridge without a good access road, you shouldn’t build a pedestrian and cycle bridge without good access paths.”

“To maximise the value proposition to State and Federal funders, I think demonstrating that the bridges are key elements of an upgraded pedestrian and cycle network package is a good idea,” Dr Murray said.

Bridges for pedestrians too

Queensland Walks would like to have seen Option C for the St Lucia Bridge selected by Council and the community, given its more direct link to the University.

“We need to ensure that any proposed bridge provides a direct link into the activity centres. People don’t tend to walk as far as people riding a bike, walking is less time-efficient, and not all residents are able to afford public transport across the rivers and often the timetable does not meet the needs of the users. For these reasons, a direct link to the University of Queensland and Toowong Shopping Centre is essential and needed as a quality congestion reducing and mobility response.”

Queensland Walks said it congratulates Brisbane City Council on committing to infrastructure that supports more people to walk every day.

“Walking is more important than ever, for our heath, for business, for the environment and is the most cost-effective way to reduce congestion,” said CEO Anna Campbell.

“For every $1 dollar council spends on walking, we see a $13 return in investment. Spending on walkability is one of the best investments to be made in a world-class and liveable city.”

Queensland Walks says, however, that Council also needs to commit to investments in other amenities for pedestrians.

“We urge Council to commit the same level of investment committed to the Green Bridges projects to all the missing and narrow suburban footpaths, kerb ramps and safe crossings that requires Council’s urgent attention. We are not equipped to host a Paralympic Games in 2032 with our existing footpath network. We need to commit to accessible and inclusive walking infrastructure, commit to investment in a Brisbane Walking Strategy, and a plan of action and significant funding boost to make Brisbane the most walkable and inclusive city in Australia.”

“Our vision for a Walkable Brisbane, in every suburb is realistic, we just need the commitment and significant increase in funding from Council to achieve this,” Ms Campbell said.

Bridge connections

Councillor Jonathan Sri and community groups have raised concern that the bridges are being used as a proxy by Council to avoid addressing cycling safety issues on Montague Road and Sir Fred Schonell Drive.

Belinda Ward from Space for Cycling says her group has campaigned for an upgrade to Sir Fred Schonell Drive, but thinks that should be separate from the bridges business case.

Likewise, Ms Ward said that Montague Road should be improved for public and active transport, regardless of the bridges.

“We certainly do need to work on the connections to the bridges.”

“The land at 600 Coronation Drive has recently been purchased and there are plans for the development there to be quite sympathetic to a connection to the Bicentennial bikeway, and to a new green bridge.”

Bicycle Queensland raised improvements to Sir Fred Schonell Drive with Council in its submissions to Council.

“When we build the Toowong to West End bridge that will be one of the things that will impact on the success or otherwise of active transport links.’

“If we’re serious about making bikes an active transport alternative to being in your car, then we’ve got to make riding your bike and walking and using e-mobility devices as convenient as driving a car.”

Bicycle Queensland also agrees that Montague Road is a high priority.

Council requires funding from other levels of Government to construct the bridges and WECA’s Cameron Murray said the next stage requires designing the bridges and their landings, as well as the design of key connecting paths.

“Getting these elements right is an important part of getting a high value outcome. Persuading State and Federal government to fund these projects requires demonstrating their value.”

Bicycle Queensland says the Federal Government has been shamefully absent from funding active transport infrastructure across the whole nation, not just in Queensland.

“We think that the Federal Government should help fund this program.”

“Council and State Government have collaborated really well on active transport infrastructure including the State partly funding bikeways in the inner city, so we would encourage the Council and State Government to continue to work together on active transport projects.”

Broader benefits

Park It considers the Toowong Bridge will extend the tourist cycle routes to the UQ end of the river.

“Toowong West End green bridge is going to form part of what we believe to be a very economically valuable tourist trail through some of the most picturesque and historically interesting parts of Brisbane. We all know how we search for experiences that explain to visitors what makes Brisbane such a great place to live,” Ms Handley said.

“This bridge and new parkland on the ABC site could be part of a circuit designed to showcase our city and the small businesses along the way.”

Previous stories here

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