Ipswich City Council has endorsed the strategic and preliminary business cases for the Norman Street Bridge and has recommended the final detailed business case stage proceed.
A report presented to council this week calculated that the existing problem – largely congestion and road safety in the Ipswich city centre – is costing the community about $34 million per year.
General Manager of Infrastructure and Environment Charlie Dill said council’s transport and land use planning framework includes a proposed new bridge crossing of the Bremer River to take through traffic out of the core of the Ipswich CBD.
This new crossing was identified as a ‘catalytic project’ in the Ipswich Regional Centre Strategy to relieve traffic congestion and promote revitalisation of the Ipswich city centre.
The Norman Street Bridge is seen as a key infrastructure driver for the future economic and civic success of the Ipswich city centre as a Principal Regional Activity Centre under the South-East Queensland Regional Plan.
Mr Dill said council had worked closely with the Queensland Government (Department of Transport and Main Roads) throughout the development of the strategic and preliminary business cases.
The key findings of these studies were:
1. Stimulating the economic growth of Ipswich is vital for jobs and well-being of Ipswich and South East Queensland residents.
2. Revitalising the Ipswich city centre is essential to the economic development of Ipswich.
3. Congestion in the Ipswich city centre is a major impediment to the revitalisation and economic development of Ipswich.
4. Traffic in the Ipswich city centre is made up of motorists travelling to the city centre as well as through the city centre.
5. Reducing congestion and improving road safety could be achieved by reducing cars and truck traffic in the city centre, and promote the use public transport, walking and cycling.
The Norman Street Bridge project will deliver benefits that include:
– enabling through-traffic to bypass the core of the Ipswich city centre
– freeing-up existing road capacities to facilitate public transport, walking and cycling access to the CBD
– increasing capacity and resilience of the transport network Ipswich to handle major flood events and (future) major events
The indicative cost of the Norman Street Bridge option is about $372 million, although it is estmated there will be a return of two dollars for every dollar invested.
“Council has planned to deliver the project in partnership with the Australian and Queensland Governments, similar to other funding arrangements used for the delivery of major infrastructure with Brisbane City, Gold Coast City and Moreton Bay Regional Councils,” Mr Dill said.
Funding assistance would also be required to commence the detailed business case.
Interim Administrator Steve Greenwood said council is calling on state and federal politicians to support Ipswich with this major city-building initiative. He agreed council should move forward with the detailed business case.