New meeting over controversial bridge plan

Published 5:00am 27 May 2022

New meeting over controversial bridge plan
Words by Nick Crockford

A second public meeting will be held for a proposed $19 million pedestrian bridge, which has been labelled a ‘white elephant’ by campaigners.

The information session will be on Saturday June 4, 10am-2pm at the Ray Frawley Playing Fields, beside Elizabeth Ave, in Clontarf.

It comes as residents continue their battle against the overpass which will link Clontarf Beach State High School (CBSHS) with sports fields, described as its western campus.

Stop Clontarf Overpass Action Group (SCOAG) is “furious" about what it says is a "lack of transparency” around the project and, from its observations, a lack students and pedestrians using the crossing.

It has 445 signatories on a protest petition and says the cash would be better spent on safety concerns at Hercules Road State School, which is on one site, 4kms away.

However, a Transport and Main Roads (TMR) spokesperson said: “Pedestrian overpasses related to schools are prioritised on state-controlled roads where there are split campuses”.

New meeting over controversial bridge plan
The new overpass will be built by the King St intersection on Elizabeth Ave.

SCOAG has called on State Transport Minister Mark Bailey to stop “this white elephant” and answer the community’s “many questions”.

Spokesperson Les Barkla said the group was “really frustrated” and needed answers about potential loss of koala habitat (12 sighting/rescues and two deaths since September 2019).

“We also need documentation and justification for the project costings, engineering reports, environmental assessments, road safety audit, cost-benefit analysis, consultation undertaken, who requested this overpass and supporting justification and when was the request made.

“We’ve also asked for details on ‘split-campus’ funding justification over other priority sites identified since 2006, like the Hercules Rd overpass.”

State Member for Redcliffe Yvette D’Ath said her office had already organised three meetings - which included residents/campaigners - and was now holding a fourth.

The first, on April 1, involved Mrs D’Ath, Federal Member for Petrie Luke Howarth, representatives from Transport and Main Roads (TMR) and community members.

New meeting over controversial bridge plan

“This meeting was thorough and all attendees travelled to the site during the meeting,” Mrs D’Ath said.

The second, on April 26, was an open forum hosted by TMR at the bridge location. Three days later a meeting was held with the CBSHS principal and business manager, Mrs D’Ath, her staff, residents and a “representative from a local koala organisation”.

The fourth meeting is on Saturday week (June 4) and “any stakeholders from the community are welcome and encouraged to attend”, Mrs D’Ath said.

Funding for the overpass was posted online in late February followed by images of the design and location on Elizabeth Ave. Protestors now regularly mount placards at the site.

New meeting over controversial bridge plan

A TMR spokesperson said construction and procurement processes are under way and “work is expected to start in mid-to-late 2022”.

TMR said CBSHS requested an overpass in 2020 but funding was not available from the “low-cost” School Transport Infrastructure Program.

However, the plan was “successfully fast-tracked” through the federal government’s Road Safety Program with an 80/20 split of the $19 million by the Federal and State Governments.

The TMR spokesman said: “Pedestrian overpasses related to schools are prioritised on state-controlled roads where there are split campuses to link the two parts of the school”.

CBSHS and the Department of Education were consulted to ensure the project met the community’s needs and an overpass is the “recommended crossing option in these circumstances”.

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