To Build or Not to Build: The Debate Over a New Bridge from Chelmer to Indooroopilly

new bridge from chelmer
Photo credit: Elliott Bledsoe/Google Maps

To build or not to build a new bridge from Chelmer to Indooroopilly: the question has been the subject of much discussion and debate since the idea was floated and particularly in recent months.

Read: Walter Taylor Bridge: Revisiting the History of Southern Hemisphere’s Only Habitable Bridge

Earlier this year, Brisbane City Council presented six options for a potential new bridge aimed at alleviating severe congestion on the existing Walter Taylor Bridge. Here are the potential solutions:

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  1. A four-lane downstream bridge and overpass near the rail line
  2. A four-lane downstream bridge with a short under rail tunnel on Coonan St
  3. A new four-lane bridge going upstream
  4. Shifting Walter Taylor Bridge to two lanes northbound, whilst building another two-lane southbound bridge
  5. Shifting Walter Taylor Bridge to two lanes southbound and then adding a new two-lane bridge northbound
  6. No action despite the severe congestion at Walter Taylor Bridge

Community Feedback

New Bridge from Chelmer
Photo credit: Brisbane City Council

Although most residents agree something must be done to address congestion around the Walter Taylor Bridge, some have presented their own ideas for improving transportation in the area that don’t involve constructing another bridge.

BCC has summarised the insights identified through community consultation, based on data gathered from the pre-feasibility study conducted:

There is a high level of community support for infrastructure solutions, with 85% of respondents suggesting a need for infrastructure upgrade and a want to see improvements to the district and river crossing.

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More than 70% of respondents suggested upgrading infrastructure by building another bridge or increasing capacity of the existing Walter Taylor Bridge, by making traffic improvements north and south of the river to reduce congestion and improve travel time reliability of road users.

63% of respondents cross the river three or more days in a week and 79% of respondents said congestion, travel time or reliability are the main challenges when crossing the river.

18% of respondents outlined a need for direct and more frequent bus and train services, including more connections servicing the northern and southern suburbs and better access to parking in and around the train stations.

12% of respondents wanted more active transport links to local paths and cycleways.

Only 1% of respondents don’t want any changes.

Brisbane City Council

Detailed findings are presented in the Outcome from Consultations and Key Findings Report.

Alternative Ideas

Meanwhile Cr Nicole Johnston (Tennyson Ward) argues that a new bridge will simply dump more cars onto already congested roads like Coonan Street and turn residential streets into thoroughfares. She advocates for improving public transportation as a preferable alternative.

New Bridge from Chelmer
Photo credit: Brisbane City Council

Cr Johnston suggested making public transport for students free during school and university terms. She also called for more local bus loops connecting to train stations, extending the CityCat network, building new bike paths where they were lacking, and upgrading problematic intersections.

The opponents of a new bridge from Chelmer to Indro argue proper investigation is needed to determine the optimal location for improved river crossings in Brisbane’s western suburbs. They contend projects improving transportation options apart from private vehicles deserve priority consideration.

Read: Rocklea to Darra Upgrade Moves Forward With Oxley Creek Bridges Update

The debate seems guaranteed to continue as officials weigh the costs and benefits of relieving congestion on the bridge so vital for connectivity between Brisbane’s inner west and southwest. For now, the outcome remains uncertain.

Published 18-August-2023