Staying on the move as people pour in
WITH Queensland’s population boom showing little sign of slowing, its transport infrastructure is being pushed to keep pace.
A booming resource sector, coupled with rising tourism rates, has led to the Sunshine State pouring billions into its roads and rail - more than any other state. The Queensland Government committed a record $ 3.05 billion towards roads infrastructure in the 2007 budget alone.
In addition, a multi- billion dollar South East Queensland Infrastructure Plan and Program ( SEQIPP) is underway to outline the infrastructure priorities of the popular south- east region.
One of Australia’s fastest- growing urban areas, the population of south- east Queensland is estimated to reach around four million by 2026 - an increase of more than one million. In transport terms, that means an additional five million more trips each day as people travel to and from an estimated 575,000 additional dwellings and 425,000 new jobs.
The SEQIPP anticipates an infrastructure expenditure of some $ 82 billion over the next 20 years. This is comprised of almost $ 35 billion in road, rail and public transport projects, and $ 78 million to investigate another possible $ 15 billion worth of road and public transport projects. ◗ ROADS .............................................................. THERE are almost 2500 road projects being planned and constructed in Queensland over the next five years.
At a cost of $ 1.8 billion, the Gateway Bridge duplication is the largest.
At the centre of the Gateway Motorway ( M1), which skirts the eastern suburbs of Brisbane, the project has significant social and economic benefits for Queensland and will ensure the Gateway Motorway continues to meet the region’s growing transport needs.
Slated for total completion in mid 2011, the project is being progressively delivered as each new section is finalised.
At $ 543 million, the Tugan Bypass is another of the state’s large undertakings. Due to open mid year, the bypass will link the southern Gold Coast and northern NSW. It is anticipated that the project will reduce the amount of traffic on the existing Gold Coast Highway by 55 per cent by 2017. In central Queensland, the $ 75 million Forgan Bridge Duplication will see a new fourlane structure built to replace the existing bridge. The work, which began late last year, is set to be completed by 2009.
As the population of central Queensland’s northern beaches area grows, the soon- to- be completed four- laning of the Mackay- Bucasia Road will provide greater access and reduce conjestion.
Further north, the Bruce Highway is being upgraded in two locations, south of Ingham and south of Tully. This work is being carried out as part of a $ 220 million federal funding commitment to the Bruce Highway between Townsville and Cairns.
Near Tully, work continues on a $ 128 million flood upgrade that will address a notorious flood trouble spot. In Townsville, work is underway on the Townsville Ring Road, while planning and design is proceeding on a new Townsville Port Access Road that will directly link the Flinders and Bruce highways to the Port of Townsville. ◗ RAIL .............................................................. OF the projected $ 83 billion to be spent on southeast Queensland’s infrastructure over the next 20 years, around $ 7 billion will be spent on upgrading the region’s rail network and services.
Queensland Rail has 28 projects slated for completion over the next 20 years, comprised of building 144km of new tracks and delivering 44 new trains.
Most are centred around Brisbane and extend north to the Sunshine Coast, south to the Gold Coast and to the western corridor. There are currently 11 projects either in the planning or construction phase.
By around 2011, the 32km Caboolture to Landsborough section of the Nambour rail line to the north of Brisbane will be duplicated, paving the way for a new rail connection to the popular beach areas of Caloundra and Maroochydore. To the south, there will be an extension of the Gold Coast rail line from Robina to Varsity Lakes, ultimately going to Coolangatta. There will also be a new rail line heading to Richlands in Brisbane’s west, eventually ending up in Springfield by 2015. ◗ AIR .............................................................. THE Sunshine State’s popularity amongst both domestic and international visitors is immense. According to Tourism Queensland figures for the year ending September 2007, domestic overnight visitors totalled 18.3 million and domestic day visitors totalled 31.6 million.
Meanwhile, international visitors to Queensland totalled 2.2 million for the same period. These figures represent a respective nine and two per cent growth on the previous two year’s visitation figures.
In practical terms, this equates to a growing level of activity at the state’s main airports.
Brisbane Airport saw its passenger numbers grow by seven per cent in 2007, which, according to corporate Relations Manager Jim Carden, is an indication of the strength of emerging markets such as China and the Middle East.
‘‘ The arrival of China Eastern and Etihad in 2007 at Brisbane Airport has brought an increased number of connections to world, further encouraging the growth of our region as a tourism and business destination,’’ he says.
More than 150,000 Chinese tourists visited Queensland last year, with the China market growing at around 20 per cent per year.
Other emerging markets, including India and the Continental EU, signify a move away from the traditional markets, with a further increase of services from Qantas, Emirates and Singapore Airlines expected in 2008.
Marginally ahead in terms of growth, Gold Coast Airport was up 7.7 per cent last year and handled more than 3.9 million passengers.
This growth can be partly attributed to a 2500 metre runway, opened in March last year, which enables direct connections to Asia and the Middle East. International services from AsiaAir X and Tiger Airways now operate from the airport.