Council reviewing toll bridge subsidy scheme after resident complaints


By Matt Dennien

Brisbane City Council will review the fine print of its Go Between Bridge toll credit scheme after residents found even utes and vans being used in a private capacity were being excluded despite the council’s insistence otherwise.

The subsidy was rolled out alongside the closure of nearby Victoria Bridge to general traffic in late January as part of the $1.2 billion Brisbane Metro project to help residents south of the CBD with the potential increased cost of crossing the river.

But soon after applying, some residents found they were unable to access the credit because terms and conditions meant only vehicles considered a passenger car or motorcycle under state registration were eligible.

Emails to residents and the Gabba ward office from the council’s transport network operations team, seen by Brisbane Times told, highlighted this excluded all vehicles registered as “light commercial/van”.

This was despite infrastructure committee chair David McLachlan insisting the scheme, which fewer than 1000 people had applied for, extended to utes and vans provided they were used for non-commercial reasons.

Cr McLachlan has now conceded that due to the Transport and Main Roads Department vehicle classifications, some residents were unable to access the subsidy.

“Council is reviewing these conditions and, in the interim, has already begun ensuring affected eligible residents receive their toll credit as soon as possible,” he said.

Those in the 4101 postcode suburbs of Highgate Hill, South Brisbane and West End could be granted the $100 annual credit, which would be added to their Linkt account and reviewed each year for a maximum of four years. The council then pays this subsidy to administrator Transurban.

Despite calls from Transport Minister Mark Bailey for the scheme to also be extended to those with less than six months on their tenancy agreements in the renter-heavy suburb, Cr McLachlan said there would be no change to that condition.

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Scottish Water has let sewage issue “run out of control” in Bridge of Weir, claims councillor



A village councillor has accused Scottish Water of allowing flooding issues in a Bridge of Weir street to “spiral out of control” and has urged bosses to deliver a permanent solution once and for all.

James MacLaren has repeatedly raised concerns about overflowing sewage in The Glen, which sits behind the popular Amaretto restaurant in Main Street.

The problem has persisted for several years and, at points, sanitary towels and excrement have been discovered lying close to the eatery.

Councillor MacLaren says he has recently been contacted by residents who are worried about the “lack of urgency” being shown over resolving the situation.

And he has hit out at Scottish Water after the firm told him a solution would not be outlined until the summer, despite being assured one had been identified.

These problems with sewage overflowing have made people’s lives a misery at The Glen for far too long, ” said the Conservative Bridge of Weir councillor.

“Scottish Water has completely failed to show any urgency to deliver a permanent solution.

“Even now when a solution has been identified, it’s not going to be revealed for a couple of months. I can’t understand the need to wait.

“The situation has been allowed to spiral out of control. Bridge of Weir has suffered many severe rainstorms in recent years so Scottish Water must ensure that residents are not having to endure these spills on such a regular basis.

“It is time for Scottish Water to be completely transparent with residents and businesses and urgently outline how these issues will be fixed once and for all.”

Scottish Water has confirmed it has identified a potential fix for the issue, which could include increasing the size of several manholes around the area.

Bosses have said this suggestion is being considered by senior management at the moment and a decision will be made in summer as to whether it is feasible.

A Scottish Water spokesman said: “Optioneering to consider external flooding solutions at Main Street in Bridge of Weir has recently concluded with a preferred solution being identified.

“This preferred solution would be to upsize two separate sections of our combined sewer to increase the flow capacity within the pipework. The first section is on Main Street, the second on Mill Brae. In addition, five manholes would need to be upsized and a new manhole installed at the bottom of Mill Brae.

“The proposed solution is being considered by senior Scottish Water management regarding whether the project is deliverable and associated timescales. A decision is expected to be made this summer, subject to any additional investigations which might be required.”



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Echuca-Moama Bridge project on track despite pandemic


Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack inspected the Echuca-Moama Bridge project today to spruik the tourism benefits of the long-awaited infrastructure.

“It’s going to build these communities that want to welcome tourists from far and wide,” Mr McCormack said.

“But as we go through the COVID-recovery, this is also promoting jobs. It’s also making sure these places can be their best selves.”

First connected by a bridge in 1878, the twin tourist towns of Echuca-Moama have been fighting for a fit-for-purpose traffic connection since 1965.

After decades of on-again-off-again funding commitments from various levels of government and several community campaigns, including “Build the bloody bridge!” in 2012, the project’s first shovel hit the dirt in 2018.

The $323.7 million project, jointly funded by Federal and State Governments, is on track for mid-2022 completion.

Echuca Historical Society president Dot Hammond said she could not wait for a change in traffic flow for the border-town population of 30,000.

“Last Saturday morning, I ran a little trash and treasure shop in town, and I just sat and watched the traffic driving around Warren street in circuits.”

While Ms Hammond is one of many in the Murray community optimistic about the new bridge’s location, she is resigned it will open with a single lane.

“I’m happy with the new design,” she said.

“The extra lane would have been nice, but we were never going to get that. It’s all about money.”

Murray River Councillor Thomas Weyrich said the new bridge would not reduce the peak-hour bottleneck.

“It’s a disaster in the making — traffic is already bumper-to-bumper on High street, this will make it ten times worse.”

Campaspe Shire councillor and Echuca business owner Paul Jarman said his three businesses had been affected by poor traffic flow for years.

Mr Jarman said he was on the council and privy to traffic management and modelling before approving the new bridge’s location and was confident the CBD will see an immediate improvement.

Mr Jarman said the decades of frustrations of tourists and locals alike was the last thing on their minds as the project comes closer to fruition.

“The efficiency of the bridge being built over the last 18 months has been amazing to watch.

“We live in the world that worries about the micro – but when we finally have our new bridge, and it will be amazing.”

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Council isn’t budging on bridge credit after residents hit ‘brick walls’


By Matt Dennien
Updated

Brisbane City Council has no plans to change eligibility requirements for its Go Between Bridge toll credit scheme despite fewer than 1000 residents being granted the subsidy and others hitting unexpected impasses while trying.

Most of the 9000 vehicles that had used the nearby Victoria Bridge daily have re-routed to the William Jolly Bridge, with patronage on the Go Between remaining about 10,500 trips a day and sparking calls from the RACQ for better incentives and discounts for the “under-utilised asset”.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey has weighed in, calling for a loosening of the criteria to more renters and private vehicle owners.

The scheme was rolled out alongside the closure of nearby Victoria Bridge to general traffic in late January as part of the $1.2 billion Brisbane Metro project, to help residents south of the CBD with the potential increased cost of crossing the river.

Those in the 4101 postcode suburbs of Highgate Hill, South Brisbane and West End could be granted the $100 annual credit, which would be added to their Linkt account and reviewed each year for a maximum of four years. The council then pays this subsidy to administrator Transurban.

While 2016 census data showed about two-thirds of the 23,000 people who lived in the area rented, well above the Queensland and national averages of closer to 30 per cent, those applying for the scheme must have six months remaining on a tenancy to be eligible.

Others have discovered utes and vans were ineligible for the credit even if only used for personal travel.

One resident, Lucy Gabb, had applied for the scheme only to hit “brick walls” and be told in emails seen by Brisbane Times that her single-cab ute, along with dual-cab varieties and vans, were not included.

“It’s not that much of a big deal but it was just frustrating because I had to do all the legwork to find out,” she said. “If they had said straight away you weren’t eligible, I wouldn’t have applied.”

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Police Shut Down Illegal Rave Under Motorway Bridge


West Midlands Police said they issued 22 people with fines after they discovered an illegal rave under a motorway bridge, “dangerously close” to a river in Birmingham on March 27. Helicopter footage and thermal imaging released by the police force show a large group of people gathering underneath the M6 motorway at Junction 4 near Coleshill. The motorway was shut to minimize the risk to the people at the gathering and one woman was helped after falling into the River Cole. Police said the event would have been illegal even without COVID-19 restrictions. “I understand people’s frustrations at having endured a long lockdown but amassing in large numbers like this for an unlicensed event in such a dangerous environment is not acceptable and we have to take action,” Assistant Chief Constable Chris Todd said. Credit: West Midlands Police via Storyful

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DEEPWATER RAILWAY BRIDGE DEMOLITION


The historic Deepwater Railway Bridge will be gone by the end of April 2021. Perched over Bezzants Road, straddling the Deepewater River immediately south of the village, its removal is for safety reasons, for pedestrians and motorists travelling beneath it. Work will commence next Tuesday, 30 March 2021 and the completion target is Tuesday, 20 April 2021. Site operations will run from 6.00am to 6.00pm Monday to Friday. There will be road closures at the site for most of the working days during working hours, however, please refer to the closure timetable. For any enquiries please call 1300 661 390.
 

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DEEPWATER RAILWAY BRIDGE DEMOLITION “. This article was brought to you by MyLocalPages as part of our local and national events & news stories services.

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Incredible 100m ‘bending’ glass bridge opens in China


A 100m “bending” bridge has opened in China. Some people on Chinese social media have said it was “too crazy to exist”.

The Ruyi bridge, located in the Zhejiang province, south of Shanghai, was first revealed in 2017, before opening in 2020.

Initially, the designs were met with scepticism, with the wonky walkways standing 140m above ground seeming unrealistic.

Former astronaut Chris Hadfield said he’d “want better handrails” while others called it “fake” and a product of computer imagery.

However, it has since become a huge tourist attraction with more than 200,000 brave visitors making the walk between the two mountains since it opened.

The bridge design is inspired by a jade ruyi, a curved object used as a symbol of good fortune in China.

It is made with three undulating bridges, with the deck partly made of glass.

Explaining the design, the creators explained: “Intertwined into an undulating bridge body, visitors have a sense of experience when they pass.

“The rigid and soft shape is perfectly integrated with the natural scenery, just like a jade ruyi in the sky, and like a fairy draped silk.”

China is also home to the world’s longest and highest bridge.

The glass-bottomed structure, which is 423 metres long and suspended 305 metres above ground level first opened in 2016.

Tourists can walk across the bridge, designed by Israeli architect Haim Dotan, and the more adventurous will be able to bungee jump or ride a zip line.

A 515 metre glass bottomed bridge opened in Portugal last year too.

The bridge is suspended 175m above ground, with a sheer drop into the river and cliffs below – and is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world.

In 2018, China opened a A$27.19 billion bridge stretching 55 km from Hong Kong to Macau – which is the longest sea-crossing ever built.

This article originally appeared in The Sun and was republished with permission

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Second Story Bridge climb would be an ‘invasion of privacy’, residents say


The existing bridge tour operates from the southern end of the bridge at Kangaroo Point and takes people up to the southern peak from the early morning to late night.

In December, operators Story Bridge Adventure Climb lodged a development application with Brisbane City Council for a second bridge climb starting from the Fortitude Valley end.

Business owner John Sharpe told ABC Radio Brisbane it was an “exciting” project that would see climbers meet at Howard Smith Wharves, take the lift to Bowen Terrace and make a shorter climb up to the northern bridge peak.

The council was planning to repaint the entire Story Bridge over five years, which Mr Sharpe said would gradually impact the southern climb business.

“We know that at some stage that will begin to impact the operations, so we thought we’d get in early,” he said.

“With the popularity of Howard Smith Wharves, and the lift from the bottom there, it seemed like a really good idea to have a different experience from the northern end.”

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After years of delay, renovation works for the iconic Chain Bridge in Budapest gets underway


One of the most famous attractions in Hungary, the Chain Bridge, is finally being renovated after falling into disrepair.

“The pavements and the roadways will be demolished and rebuilt completely. Rustproofing will be needed for the steel plates,” according to Dávid Borsi, spokesperson, Centre for Budapest Transport.

The renovation is long overdue. The last one took place more than three decades ago and rust has taken its toll. After many arguments between the government and the opposition-led city, the project is finally underway.

Kata Tüttő, deputy to the Major of Budapest, says the renovation is estimated at 19 billion forints (€51 million). “5 billion forints will go to monument protection, heritage protection. Limestone will come from a special mine which was already considered depleted, candelabras will be renovated with special, state-of-the-art tools.”

The Chain Bridge has been the symbol of Budapest for more than 170 years. Tourists and newlyweds often take pictures with it in the background from Adam Clark square. It’s hoped the renovations will be concluded by 2023.

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Thousands of new William Jolly drivers spark calls for toll bridge discount


By Matt Dennien

The average number of vehicles using Brisbane’s William Jolly Bridge each day has jumped by more than 5100 in the wake of a permanent CBD river crossing shake-up this year sending thousands of motorists away from the now “green” Victoria bridge.

But commuters shunned the neighbouring Go Between toll bridge in the first month after the changes, analysis of Brisbane City Council and Queensland’s Transport and Main Roads Department data shows, despite a council subsidy scheme for some residents south of the river.

The figures have renewed calls from the RACQ for a better incentives and discounts for the ”under-utilised asset” amid a broader post-pandemic shift towards private transport, with council pointing to a range of infrastructure projects adding to heightened congestion.

After years of warning, Brisbane City Council closed the historic Victoria Bridge to general traffic on January 24 as part of plans to allow only public transport, pedestrian and cycle access to the bridge under its $1.2 billion Brisbane Metro project.

The decision had an immediate impact on daily bridge traffic, which averaged just 1154 vehicles across the following 25 days to February 18 — an 85 per cent drop from the daily average of 9419 vehicles crossing the bridge in the comparative weekday period spanning January 26 to February 20 last year.

A total of 133,710 more vehicles were instead recorded on the neighbouring William Jolly Bridge in the 2021 period, about 63 per cent of the 210,000 fewer vehicles using the Victoria Bridge. Data provided by the state government suggested about 4100 more vehicles used the Captain Cook Bridge, for a total of more than 124,000.

Council modelling had suggested about 70 per cent of Victoria Bridge users would opt to take the William Jolly, with a $100 subsidy provided to 4101 postcode residents to offset any extra travel costs for using the Go Between Bridge.

But the council data showed average trips on the toll bridge dropped by about 180 a day, or 1.7 per cent of the roughly 10,500 daily users. The Story Bridge experienced a similar jump of about 1400 vehicles to a daily average now nudging 95,000.

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