The first thing we went looking for in Council’s 2019-20 budget was a serious allocation of funds to back the Lord Mayor’s promise of 5 new green bridges (4 across the Brisbane River, and one across Breakfast Creek). The budget contains $6.1 million “to begin planning” for those bridges, but disappointingly, there is no capital allocation until 2020-21 which is after the next Council election. We note that there there has been a lot of planning for cross-river bridges over the last century, and as recently as 2016-17 the budget included $210,000 for Cross River Bridge Design and Investigation. We hope this round of planning will result in the bridge construction program Brisbane so desperately needs.
Since taking office in 2016, the current Council administration has made much of the $100 million Better Bikeways for Brisbane program. We have been tracking this carefully, based on a past perceptions that the money allocated does not correlate with value delivered. The program has traditionally referred to projects listed under “Constructing Key Bikeway Links in Brisbane Suburbs” and “Enhancing Safety and Cyclist Facilities”. The 2019-20 budget brings the total allocated under those two headings to $102.73 million or $95.8 million, depending who you believe about the $6.9 million listed in 2018-19 for Emergent Works.*
The big ticket items listed in 2019-20 are:
- $15 million for the Botanic Gardens Riverwalk (for a total of $20.4 million)
- $1.5 million carried over from previous years to complete the Kangaroo Point Bikeway Stage 1 (for a total of $7.4 million)
- $1.7 million carried over from previous years to complete the Woolloongabba Bikeway (for a total of $17.1 million allocated to that project).
- $1.2 million for Stage 5 of the North Brisbane Bikeway, which is now listed as Bridge Street to North Brisbane Bikeway – Bradshaw Street, Lutwyche rather than Price St, Woolloowin after Council bowed to pressure from residents who demanded the kerb space be reserved for their parking convenience.
- $3.7 million is also carried over into this financial year to begin construction of the Indooroopilly Bikeway – but it’s not clear what has been done with the other $6.7 million that had appeared in previous budgets for this project.
Other significant items:
- There is a further $782,000 allocated for the Moreton Bay Cycleway connection from Viola Pl to Schneider Rd, bringing the total allocated to this project so far to $3 million without any physical progress, or, it appears, any reasonable prospect that it will start within the next 12 months.
- A further allocation of $169,000 brings the total for the Weyers Rd link to the Gateway North Bikeway to $387,000. We hope we will see that project start soon – noting that it was originally planned to be open at the same time as the main path.
- There is an additional $579,000 for the mysterious Wakerley Bikeway (in addition to the $210 allocated last year), and
- $309,000 for a bikeway in Wishart Community Park (for a total of $586,000). Again, it’s not obvious how that will be spent; the Bulimba Creek Bikeway already goes through Wishart Community Park.
There are also small top-up amounts to funding allocated in previous years for bikeways in Kenmore Hills (Paley St to Mabb St), Sunnybank (Coultis St), and Murarrie (Lytton Rd). We are aware of the scope of the first of those projects, but not the others.
Other projects which were allocated money in previous budgets, but which have not completed (or in some cases started) include:
- Holme Ave, Boondall for $218,000
- Inala Bikeway – Hyacinth Street, Inala for $359,000
- Joachim St, Holland Park West – $163,000
It’s not clear what will happen to that funding if those projects don’t proceed.
*As mentioned, it’s not clear what happened to the bulk of the $6.9 allocated for the dumped Land St tunnel duplication; was this carried over under “Emergent works” in 2018-19? Was that amount additional funding as the budget documents indicated, or carry-over as Cr Schrinner later stated?
Overall, the signal is that Council will proceed with the projects they decided behind closed doors four or more years ago. For future programs, we hope to see not only an increased investment, but also a much more strategic planning approach that will deliver bikeways based on the value they add to the city’s network.