Budget Cuts Force Pause on Toowong to West End Green Bridge and Victoria Bridge Project

BCC will undergo a series of cost-cutting measures to address a forecast budget blowout of approximately $400 million, impacting the already delayed Toowong to West End Green Bridge, which will be paused indefinitely.

Also affected by the cut is the shading of Victoria Bridge, part of the Brisbane Metro project, a stage that’s estimated at $5 million. This significant spending reduction, equating to a 10 per cent reduction in Council expenditure, comes just three months after the 2023-2024 budget was unveiled in June this year.  

Rising Costs Prompt Immediate Spending Cuts

The decision to reduce the budget by $400 million aims to tackle soaring construction costs, labour, materials, goods, and services, which have put pressure on Council’s financial resources. This move seeks to keep future rate increases in check and maintain affordability for residents as the city heads into an election year.

Brisbane City Council will implement a range of austerity measures to achieve these savings. For instance, the public art component of the Brisbane Metro project will be delayed. Advertising, travel, consultants, and councillor ward budgets will also be reduced. 

However, Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner assured that there would be no forced layoffs among permanent Council employees, although contractors may face uncertainty.

Green Bridge

Citywide Impact and Concerns

The budget cut will have far-reaching consequences, potentially jeopardising various projects or increasing their costs. The specifics of how these cuts will affect services and projects, including roads and footpaths, have not been disclosed, leading to concerns among opposition parties and residents. 

Opposition leader Jared Cassidy criticised the lack of transparency in revealing which projects would be impacted, emphasizing that residents should not have to wait for months to discover how their local services might be affected.

Mr Schrinner defended the budget cut as a necessary corrective action to avoid future rate rises, highlighting the increasing costs faced by the council. He cited rising expenses in areas such as fuel, electricity, bitumen, and construction as key reasons behind the decision. Mr Schrinner maintained that essential services like waste collection, buses, and ferries would remain unaffected.

“Households right across the city are tightening their belts and it’s only fair governments do too,” Mr Schrinner said

“Today I’m announcing a Council-wide 10% savings drive amid the global inflation and cost-of-living crisis.

“What we’re doing will put downward pressure on future rates compared to the uncontrolled spending we see at other levels of government that will only lead to pain for households.

“This is the kind of responsible decision-making Brisbane residents expect so we can maintain the lowest rates in South East Queensland.”

Future Implications and Challenges

The revised budget is expected to be released by the end of November, just a few months before Brisbane ratepayers go to the polls in March 2024.

Global inflation has played a substantial role in driving up construction costs, causing budget revisions and project delays. Fiona Cunningham, chair for finance in Brisbane civic cabinet, explained that continuing to spend without addressing these rising costs would result in future rate hikes for residents, an outcome the Council is determined to avoid.

“While some proposed projects may be paused, the majority will be delivered on time however council officers will be working hard over coming months to descope and remove unnecessary costs,” Ms Cunningham said.  

Published 18-Oct-2023

Toowong to West End Green Bridge Design Phase to Start Soon

After being paused to prioritise Brisbane’s flood recovery last year, the proposed Toowong to West End green bridge is set to move into the detailed design phase by the end of 2023.

Read: Steps Taken to Acquire Toowong Green Bridge Landing Site

The Toowong to West End pedestrian and cycle bridge, which would span the Brisbane River connecting the two suburbs, is one of four green bridges proposed by Brisbane City Council. It could support over 5,000 trips per day by 2041 if built.

Toowong to West End Green Bridge rest point with seating and viewing opportunities – Artist’s impression only (Photo credit: Brisbane City Council/Flickr)

According to updates from Council, planning for the bridge had been paused to focus on the city’s flood recovery efforts. But with developers now moving on the former ABC Toowong site, securing the land for the bridge was identified as a priority.

Proposed riverside park and plaza at the Toowong landing (Photo credit: Brisbane City Council/Flickr)

The concept design for the bridge was unveiled in late 2021 and community consultations were undertaken until early 2022. Based on the outcome of the consultations, the concept design received generally positive feedback on the proposed bridge form.

Key features of the proposed bridge

  • a curved single-mast cable stay bridge form with a length of about 280m and mast height of 75m above water level
  • a single water-based pier on the Toowong side of the Brisbane River to minimise impacts on river users
  • dedicated pathways for walkers and riders, with a minimum width of 6m and accessible grades
  • a bridge clearance height of 11.4 metres, with provision for a 70m wide navigation channel
  • a rest point and widened pathway (up to 9m) adjacent to the bridge mast with seating and viewing opportunities
  • shade along the length of the walking path
  • a new riverside green space at the Toowong landing
  • a landing at Orleigh Park that minimises impacts on open space and provides a direct connection to the walking and cycling network.

An estimated one third of funding for the Toowong to West End bridge and other planned green bridges needs to come from state and federal governments. Council has yet to apply for state government funding for the Toowong to West End bridge project.

The Council is pushing forward with plans for the Toowong to West End bridge, saying detailed design work is essential before approaching the state and federal governments for funding.

Read: Could Toowong Soon Witness the Rise of Higher Density and Taller Skyscrapers?

So far, only the plans for the Kangaroo Point green bridge and the Breakfast Creek green bridge are progressing. Like the Toowong to West End bridge, The St Lucia to West End green bridge has also been paused to prioritise flood recovery.

Published 31-August-2023

Toowong, St Lucia to West End Green Bridges Confirmed After Overwhelming Support

After a four-month consultation period and more than 4,000 responses from the locals, the locations of the third and fourth green bridges to link West End to Toowong and St Lucia have been confirmed.

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said that the bridge from Toowong to West End will have its landing sites at the former ABC property on Coronation Drive and Forbes Street in West End. About 83 percent of the residents agreed to this proposal, whilst 64 percent supported the plan to have a green bridge at Guyatt Park in St Lucia to connect to West End’s Orleigh Park. 

Photo Credit: Brisbane City Council

Mr Schrinner said that the new owners of the former ABC site, Consolidation Property Group, have been aware of the proposal, which will become part of its upcoming development plans.

Council will soon be working on a detailed business case that will carefully map out the estimates and benefits of the Toowong to West End and St Lucia to West End green bridges, including the funding and time frame for construction.

“We will now proceed to develop business cases for each of these bridges and commence detailed design work. The rise of e-mobility is illustrating just how important major infrastructure like this is to connect communities and reduce our reliance on motor vehicles,” Councillor Ryan Murphy said.  

Meanwhile, Council said that the Toowong to West End green bridge will be able to cater to 3,400 trips a day in 10 years. Per the residents’ response, the Toowong site is third on the priority list after the construction of the green bridges in Kangaroo Point and Breakfast Creek. These bridges are earmarked for construction by late 2021 and should be completed in 2023.

Only the fifth bridge’s location has yet to be determined.