Transcity to build final TransApex tunnel in Brisbane’s west

The Brisbane City Council has announced Transcity as the consortium who will construct the Northern Link Tunnel

The Brisbane City Council yesterday announced that the Transcity consortium has won the bid to construct Brisbane’s final TransApex road tunnel. The consortium consists of Spanish construction giant Acciona, Italian tunneling firm Ghella and local Brisbane construction company BMD. The tunnel will cost the BCC $1.5 billion dollars to build and is expected to open in 2014.

With the addition of a new toll road as part of Brisbane’s burgeoning TransApex network, many in the community will be watching for traffic modelling revisions until project completion 2014. Following the debarcle surrounding forecasting and early traffic numbers for the Clem7 tunnel, the issue of toll roads has again become an issue of contention in the growth of Brisbane.

Toll roads have been an issue in Brisbane and South East Queensland in general from the 1940’s when commuters were deeply opposed to a toll on the Story Bridge. Although the Story Bridge toll was only in place until 1947, when full construction costs were recouped, the Logan Motorway is another example of fierce community opposition to the ‘user pays’ system.

A strong ‘anti-toll’ sentiment appears to be a major barrier to providing future large scale infrastructure in Brisbane and South East Queensland in general. Perhaps lacking the foresight of our southern counterparts, Queenslanders seem to be opposed to the ‘user pays’ system and with RiverCity Motorway Group facing massive losses from the Clem7 toll revision, the question must be asked as to whether user psychology has been adequately accounted for in the traffic modelling for Northern Link.

Despite their public function, roads tend to become a more private piece of infrastructure once a toll is imposed. Much research has been done on the psychology of road users, how they approach justifying use of a toll road as well as the concept of whether toll roads are truly ‘public’ infrastructure. The central issue for toll roads is income levels and whilst this is considered in traffic modelling it shoud not be considered in isolation. Traditional modelling theories suggest route, income, distance, time and convenience are inter-related concepts when ‘forecasting’ possible toll road use figures.

Early volumes for the Go Between Bridge appear to be a lot closer to the forecasts, estimated by Brisbane City Council, than Clem7 forecasts which were conducted by a private firm. The adequacy of Go Between Bridge modelling and inadequacy of Clem7 modelling highlights another important issue, should private firms be engaged in forecasting modelling public good items?.

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