WBBAG/REPA meets the WBTNI

The WBBAG and REPA met with the WBTNI on Thursday the 23rd of August, 2007. The meeting was arranged as a follow up to the WBBAG response to the WBTNI Draft Terms of Reference. One of our primary objectives for the meeting was to have the WBTNI address a list of questions we have put together based on feedback and questions from the community. With that in mind, those questions and our interpretation of the WBTNI answers follow along with a short summary of interesting points we noted during the meeting.

Q1: When will the final Terms of Reference be made available ?
A1: Mid September 2007
Q2: Is the Connect West Consortium able to release the initial terms of reference provided to it by the government for the WBTNI?
(NOTE: the project has already spent at least $6.84 million)
A2: The information is not immediately available, but can be obtained under the "Freedom of Information" act. The process for this can be adjusted to reduce costs etc. Specifically the documents would be the "Registration Of Interest (ROI)" and "Invitation for Offer (IFO) - Functional Specification portion" documents.
Q3: Has the initial study determined that a Western Brisbane Bypass is required ? If not, when will this decision be made ? Would it be a true bypass or a ring road ?
A3: No, it has not determined if a Western Brisbane Bypass is needed.

A recommendation will be made in the mid 2008 time frame. This recommendation will not include a route, even if it determines that a Western Brisbane Bypass is needed.

If a bypass is required, the recommendation will determine if the bypass is to be in the Brisbane Valley region or West of Mt Coot-tha. It will not state a specific route.
Q4: Will the WBTNI publish a table of dates and specific time frames as suggested in the WBBAG written response to the Draft Terms of Reference and if so when?
A4:
    Data Collection         May   2006 - March 2007
    Scenario Development    April 2007 - Late  2007
    Preferred Strategy      Late  2007 - Mid   2008

Information on the various options will be released in late 2007 and will be open to public feedback. Not all of these options will be part of the final recommendation on a preferred transport network strategy provided in mid 2008. The project will not prioritise the final options, though it may attach an approximate costing.

The Scenario Development phase comprises:

  • Major focus on public transport initiatives.
  • Regional walking and cycling
  • Northern Link Tunnel (WBTNI strategic assessment of project) The NLT is currently in the feasibility stage of development and as such is much further along than the WBTNI.
  • The need for a Western Brisbane Bypass
  • Western Suburbs Enhancements
    • East of Mt Coot-tha (Centenary/Western Freeway)
    • Indooroopilly, ...
Q5: What is the full breakdown percentage of the WBTNI budget in specific areas of investigation? For example:
  • Road Infrastructure Investigations (including traffic modelling).
  • Environmental impact assessment.
  • Improving existing public transport options (eg., park-and-ride).
  • New public transport options (eg., light rail, bikeways)
A5: There is no specific breakdown of costs, though the WBTNI assured us that a very large proportion of their costs are directed towards community consultation.

Light rail is regularly discussed with respect to WBTNI scenarioes, as is Bus and Rail integration.
Q6: Has the Connect West Consortium completed the data collection phase as per the draft project overview? Will this information be made available to the public? What progress is being made with the scenario development phase?
A6: The WBTNI noted that the Data Collection phase has only just been completed and the first modeling simulations are being run, which is the very start of the Scenario development phase. The data collection phase is ongoing throughout the investigation.

They had not considered making collected data available to the public but will consider options to do this.
Q7: How is input from the community used and what influence does it have on the investigation? Can the WBTNI provide any statistics on the community input to date ?
A7: The WBTNI is a "big picture" investigation and is interested in general input at this point. The time for specific input (ie., specific proposed road/infrastructure changes) would be addressed by workshops. The time and call for participation in workshops will be advertised.

The workshops will be scheduled for sometime at the end of 2007 and in March 2008.
Q8: Is the WBTNI aware of the ongoing proposal to list the D'Aguilar Range and associated areas as a UNESCO Biosphere? How would such a classification affect transport options that would pass through the range?
A8: Yes. It does have an impact and that is assessed and changes made as needed. It is possible for environmental impact to make an otherwise viable option unworkable.
Q9: Is the approved Goodna bypass included in the WBTNI investigations?
A9: Yes, though whether it is an upgrade or a bypass in it's final form is largely irrelevant to the modelling and decisions as the overall performance of the upgrade/bypass will be largely unchanged.
Q10: Would any large road infrastructure proposed by the investigation be privately funded (ie., Public Private Partnerships) ? Would such roads be toll roads ?
A10: Too far out to tell. Toll roads do not factor in at this stage as it is largely a cost/benefit analysis. That is the cost of the implementation and the benefit to the community.
Q11: To what extent does the WBTNI consider both state and locally controlled infrastructure (ie., state roads meeting/influencing council roads) and their interactions ?
A11: All the transport projects and options within the area of investigation are factored in, and in cases like the Northern Link Tunnel, assessed specifically with respect to the WBTNI.
Q12: How could a Western Brisbane Bypass reduce traffic on Samford Road, Waterworks Road, Brookfield Road and Moggill Road?
A12: Unlikely that it would and such issues are considered as part of the evaluations.
Q13: The uncertainty and lack of information with respect to the investigation is causing frustration and concern in all suburbs from Moggill to Caboolture. We regularly hear from concerned residents that want to know if "the road" will affect their property or when the information will be made available. The WBTNI must also be receiving such queries. What is the WBTNI answer to such questions ?
A13: There is no answer, and there is unlikely to be an answer for still some time. The WBTNI project only addresses the need for improvements. For example it will determine whether there is a need for the Western Brisbane Bypass by mid 2008, and even if there is a need, it will not include any specific routes. It will only recommend a zone for such a bypass based on the WBTNI modeling, for example an "Inner Western" or "Outer Western" road.

General Meeting Notes

The WBTNI is a Queensland Transport project. It was a Main Roads project, but as the scope increased it moved across to QLD Transport (2006). So now Main Roads is managing the project for Queensland Transport.

Funds for the project were originally approved in Nov. 2004, The current project manager started with the project around Feb 2005. Selection of consultants started in June 2005 and ran for 6 months. At this point the Connect West manager became involved in the project after successfully bidding for it. The Connect West consortium comprises Sinclair Knight & Merz, Maunsell and the Phillips group.

Brisbane City, Ipswich City and Pine Rivers Shire Councils are on project Advisory Board.

Some definitions:
  Western Brisbane: West of CBD, south to Ipswich motorway, north to Caboolture and west to the Brisbane Valley.
  Western Corridor: Inala, West Ipswich, Springfield, ...

Following the Route 20 study, traffic problems were identified in Western Brisbane. In 1997, the Integrated Regional Transport Plan (IRTP) for SEQ stated that "While there is no need for another bypass of Brisbane for long distance traffic" ... "A transport investigation needs to be undertaken to determine how to resolve future network deficiencies in the western Brisbane area." (SEQ IRTP Chapter 8.6, pg 67). The study was for various reasons not commenced. WBTNI is very similar in scope to the originally proposed study except that it has decided to address the question that has been raised many times in recent years of whether there is a need for a Western Bypass of Brisbane.

In 2005 a Regional Plan was produced that promoted growth in western corridor. The project was re-scoped as the WBTNI to address transport problems and growth.

The WBTNI was originally started to:

  • Address Western Brisbane Transport problems.
  • Address growth in the rapidly developing Western Corridor.
  • Consider "infill" development in Western Brisbane.

The 2026 SEQIPP (South East Queensland Infrastructure Plan and Program) shows the only infrastructure slated for Western Brisbane as being the Ferny Grove rail duplication and transit lanes on the Centenary/Western Freeway. It also shows that the expected urban footprint by 2026 includes almost no change to the existing Western Brisbane area, with a small pocket of growth in the Moggill/Bellbowrie area.

The arguments for a ring road only work well in homogeneous cities. The WBTNI does not consider Brisbane a homogeneous city. The land use to the east of the city is substantially different to the west. The port of Brisbane, the airport and the terrain are significant influences on the land use, and thus the transport requirements.

The WBTNI defined a "bypass" as a road that bypasses and does not feed into the local traffic system. A Brisbane Valley option would most certainly be a true bypass. An option closer in but still west of Mt Coot-tha would be less likely to be a bypass and more likely to be an orbital or ring road. It is still possible to ensure an inner option would be a bypass by utilising design (ie., on/off ramps, tolls and fines).

The WBTNI ran us through their SEQSTM (South East QLD Strategic Transport Model). This model did not exist and was a significant function of the WBTNI. The Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast versions (GCSTM/SCSTM) were also mentioned. The model is being run on extrapolated 2001 Census data and the recent 2006 census data will be included soon. The WBTNI verifies the extrapolated data and model by actually testing trips times on roads versus the estimated trip time the model produces.

The SEQSTM runs in a rough triangle from Cooloola to the Tweed and out slightly west of Esk. It divides this area into 813 zones. By comparison, the Brisbane City model (BSTM) is 4000 zones and a much smaller area. The coarse granularity is a reflection of the macro level of the WBTNI.

The WBTNI has just started simulation runs on the Brisbane Valley and West of Mt Coot-tha zones. The project is only looking at need within a zone and not alignment

The often quoted "10% traffic reduction would fix congestion" number was confirmed, and likewise, a %10 increase will be effectively gridlock.

The WBTNI is engaging the public by:

  • Staffed public displays
  • Static displays
  • A second newsletter
  • Advertisements
  • Briefings
  • Community Liaison Groups
  • Workshops

The WBTNI were just as unhappy with the WBTNI newsletter distribution as we were, and apologised. Apparently they were under internal time constraints to deliver the newsletter as soon as possible and chose the delivery mechanism accordingly.