ELECTION UPDATE: Newman pushes Feds on busway extension

Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman took a group of journalists on a tour of the proposed $800 million Eastern Busway project this week, urging Federal Election candidates to ‘get with the program’. David Goeldner reports

ELECTION UPDATE: Newman pushes Feds on busway extension
ELECTION UPDATE: Newman pushes Feds on busway extension

By David Goeldner | August 6, 2010

The push for a federally-funded busway from inner-eastern Brisbane to the bayside Redland’s Shire entered election campaigning this week.

Brisbane’s Lord Mayor Campbell Newman is calling on all sides of Federal politics contesting the August election to support a Brisbane-Redlands $800million bid to finish the Eastern Busway.

"It’s great to see some commitments from federal politicians, a commitment by the coalition for the Toowoomba bypass, and thrilled by Minister Albanese for the Blacksoil intersection upgrade," Newman says.

"But the Eastern busway project also needs Federal Government assistance."

He says the ‘number one’ issue in south-east Queensland in this Federal election is traffic congestion.

"I don’t care who they are, but you have all of these Federal people running around our town at the moment and they never talk about traffic congestion," Newman says.

"Get with the program – this is the issue."

Newman says he wants commitment and a ‘real plan’ to help fund traffic and bus initiatives in south-east Queensland.

"There is no ‘do nothing’ option," he says, adding if commonwealth funding was not forthcoming an opportunity will be missed.

"You would think in the middle of a federal campaign political parties would come here with a plan to fund south-east Queensland.

"That’s what all the region’s mayors are after."

Newman’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ collective of SEQ mayors talked up their recent funding submission to Infrastructure Australia, matching the $800 million already spent by the Bligh Government on the first completed stage.

"The Bligh Government has done some great work in this initial stage," he says.

"But it’s vital to take this busway further east," Newman says.

"At the end of the day all politics is local and you have some big issues here, and we should be seeing some commitments to these projects."

The Eastern busway plan is to cut a path to Carindale and then on to Capalaba in the Redlands Shire, identified as key growth centres in the south-east Queensland regional plan.

The busway design is a mix of tunnelling, elevated sections and dedicated bus lanes along Old Cleveland Road – the main arterial to Redlands.

About 35,000 vehicles travel the arterial each day, projected to be 70,000 within the next decade without a supporting busway,

Redlands Mayor Melva Hobson says the current 2026 third stage to Capalaba completion date was not appropriate.

"We want to see it fast-tracked and completed before 2026."

She says with 25,000 more people moving into Redlands in the next ten years, the 70,000 car trips in and out of Brisbane each day looks ‘precariously close’.

Newman says there is a risk of entrenching car culture in the region if nothing is done quickly.

"Everyone along these routes will benefit from improved public transport, slashing of travel times and taking cars off the road," Newman says.

A typical 23km car trip into town from Capalaba takes 45 minutes at weekends and up to 70 minutes during the morning peak.

Eastern busway planners say the extension will slash travel time to 22 minutes.

To give the plan traction, Brisbane City Council this week approved a transit-oriented bus-rail-shopping precinct at Buranda-Stones Corner, located at the start of the proposed second stage through to Carindale.

Newman’s Eastern Corridor Neighbourhood Plan calls for a second revitalised shopping hub along the proposed route at Coorparoo.

He says Queensland’s state Labor Government and the region’s councils were unanimous in their support for the busway concept.

"It’s backed by the Bligh Government, so we are calling on all Federal politicians in south-east Queensland to get on board and make a commitment in this campaign."

Newman called on former PM Kevin Rudd to support the project in his Griffith electorate where the busway’s proposed second stage passes through.

"It would be great for the people of his electorate," says Newman.

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