Bruce Highway upgrade at the Sunshine Motorway on-ramp.
Bruce Highway upgrade at the Sunshine Motorway on-ramp.

How Olympic dream could end transport nightmare

FIGHTING lagging infrastructure and facing an unstoppable wave of population growth, the 2032 Olympic Games bid for southeast Queensland could be the catalyst for desperately-needed transport infrastructure.

The Olympic bid is being weighed up by the State Government at present to determine how viable a southeast edition of the Games would be.

With changes to the Olympic model, up to 10 years' lead-in time and a City Deal being thrashed out, it's hoped the Olympic Games could kickstart major investment in road, rail, civic and sporting infrastructure to help future-proof the Sunshine Coast and better connect the southeast.

The SEQ Council of Mayors' SEQ People Mass Movement Study found the demand for transport would increase by 30 per cent by 2031, based on population and employment growth.

Based on the Department of Transport and Main Roads' strategic transport model for southeast Queensland, current infrastructure would not cope with the increased demand, and public transport use was set to flatline after 2032.

Faster rail is key for southeast Queensland’s future trannsport needs.
Faster rail is key for southeast Queensland’s future trannsport needs.

Faster rail, of speeds up to 250km/h, was identified as being able to provide the backbone for the transport network across the southeast.

The advanced plan, which was recommended for implementation, was set to cost $63.7 billion through to 2041.

Potential private sector investment opportunities had been identified, which totalled up to $24 billion, that could reduce the capital investment required of government to deliver the vision.

Highway upgrades, light and heavy rail and high-speed bus networks formulated part of the plans for the Sunshine Coast's transport network transformation.

The drive market has long been identified as one of the key pillars of the region's tourism industry, and better connectivity to Brisbane and the Gold Coast was key to capitalising on international tourists.

Congestion on the Bruce Hwy. Picture: Annette Dew
Congestion on the Bruce Hwy. Picture: Annette Dew

The Sunshine Coast Airport Draft Master Plan included plans to bring light rail in to the terminal.

The light rail was set to eventually connect with a faster rail or heavy rail network linked to Brisbane, offering visitors to the capital another way into the Sunshine Coast.

The state and federal governments have both acknowledged the need to improve connectivity, not just for an Olympic bid, but to cater to future population growth and ensure tourists can still access the region easily.

That acknowledgment was sealed with the signing of a statement of intent in March, for a South East Queensland City Deal between the Federal Government, State Government and SEQ Council of Mayors.

"In the period to 2041, the region is expected to accommodate an additional 1.9 million residents and almost 800,000 new homes," the statement of intent reads.

"The region is also expecting to support one million new jobs."

In the statement it identified six priority areas for action, including connecting infrastructure, improving digital connectivity and delivering sustainable housing, as part of the 20-year City Deal.

The three parties were committed to progressing the development of a formal City Deal for southeast Queensland.

Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates, AC, said Prime Minister Scott Morrison had indicated recently the SEQ 2032 Olympic bid "sat comfortably" with the SEQ City Deal.

"He was very positive," Mr Coates said.