Brisbane council predicts cost blow-out in state’s Riverwalk pledge

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Brisbane council predicts cost blow-out in state’s Riverwalk pledge

By Matt Dennien

Brisbane City Council has questioned whether a $22 million Palaszczuk government election pledge would be enough to fill Riverwalk gaps at Kangaroo Point, despite not committing to any funding of its own to a project it expected could come in at triple the price.

The stretch between Captain Burke Park, beneath the Story Bridge, and Mowbray Park in East Brisbane features some sections of pathway, but is hampered by private land, pontoons and moorings which the council has warned would make any work “very costly and extremely difficult”.

The planned section, which would take cyclists from Captain Burke Park to East Brisbane, is a key link to the council’s proposed Kangaroo Point green bridge.

The planned section, which would take cyclists from Captain Burke Park to East Brisbane, is a key link to the council’s proposed Kangaroo Point green bridge.Credit:File

While identified as a primary bicycle path in the council’s 2014 City Plan, no funding has been allocated to connecting previously built sections along the waterfront, which was a key link to the eastern suburbs from the council’s planned Kangaroo Point green bridge set to open in late 2023.

In the days before the 2020 state election, Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey announced $22.5 million would fund the “unbroken bike and pedestrian path” linking the parks, as the flagship piece of a $58 million pledge to boost cycle infrastructure.

But high-level council cost estimates placed the potential price tag far higher than the government commitment, calling into question whether it could be completed ahead of the bridge.

During this week’s meeting of the council’s public and active transport committee, chairman Ryan Murphy said he had written to Mr Bailey and suggested the cost was likely to be more than $60 million.

Cr Murphy said he would raise the issue at the next meeting of the joint Active Transport Advisory Committee in June as residents in the area were “hurting” from the loss of CityCat stops and bus stop disruption from Story Bridge maintenance work.

“I think it’s really important to get it happening in line with the Kangaroo Point green bridge and will really improve pedestrian-cyclist connectivity around Kangaroo Point,” Cr Murphy said after questions from Greens Gabba ward councillor Jonathan Sri.

Asked if the council was planning to put money towards the project to plug the shortfall gap, Cr Murphy said “the state has committed to the project”.

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“We’ve simply advised that we believe council knows quite a bit about these projects, being in our wheelhouse, but it’s the state’s project,” he said.

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The council has delivered a number of stretches of the Riverwalk at New Farm and the city Botanic Gardens, along with years-long work on a $58 million Indooroopilly section set to open this year amid questions about the spend in a lower-volume cycling corridor.

Mr Bailey said the Kangaroo Point extension was still in its early days, with only initial informal discussions between the department and council and no timeline.

“We made a $22.5 million commitment at the election to start work on that within the next four years,” he said.

“That funding is locked in. The budget won’t cover the entire cost of the project, and will depend on Brisbane City Council contributing funding towards it too.”

Cr Murphy’s letter to Mr Bailey, seen by Brisbane Times, said the private pontoons and moorings in the area would make design and construction “very costly and extremely difficult”.

He said the council was unable to construct the missing links on private land but was continuing to acquire some and working to “ultimately deliver this link as future funding becomes available”.

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