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Brisbane's western suburbs feeling the strain of an 85-year-old bridge

Media Academy

The debate over the location of a new school in Brisbane’s western suburbs has drawn attention to traffic concerns around Indooroopilly.

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Local residents caught in the bottleneck of the Walter Taylor Bridge are concerned that a new primary school will bring even more traffic.

For locals in the inner west, including students, parents and teachers, the limited river crossings make peak hour more of a burden. In an informal survey by one local student, many voiced their concern that the situation would get worse, with one student even going so far as to suggest the planned school would add to congestion which “puts kids at risk of being late a lot more, which inconveniences their learning”.

One Indooroopilly State High School teacher observed that “for students arriving late to school, some may be able to jump straight into the lesson with no fuss. However, for newer and even older students, some may feel flustered, distracted and unwilling to participate in class activities which can strain their relationship with their teacher.”

The State Government has now acknowledged the traffic concerns. Responding to public feedback on the proposed location of the new school, the education department agreed to investigate the feasibility of alternative sites, partly because of feared congestion.

“The department appreciates that like many inner-city schools, traffic is of concern to local residents, particularly at drop-off and pick-up times. The department will also work with DTMR (Department of Transport and Main Roads), BCC (Brisbane City Council) and other appropriate governing bodies and other schools located within the area to determine potential traffic solutions to Brisbane’s inner west.”

The Walter Taylor Bridge is the main link between the Graceville and Indooroopilly areas. According to the survey, 90 per cent of respondents felt the bridge, and the traffic snarls caused by it, impacted on their life on a daily basis. Some reported waiting in traffic for up to forty-five minutes.

“It’s necessary to plan trips over the bridge so that we are not stuck in peak hour traffic jams – very inconvenient,” wrote one Graceville resident.

Local students and members of the Graceville and Chelmer communities argued that having one lane each way on the bridge was the main contributor to the bottleneck, however some pointed to broader planning failures.

“These are flaws because this bridge was built decades ago when there was less demand for the use,” said 22-year-old Christina Harwood.

“The area has developed a lot since the and cars have become the preferred mode of transport for many people. The crossing in this section of the river has not been appropriately upgraded to match the increased population and demand in the area.”

Local Brisbane City councillor James Mackay, from the Walter Taylor Ward, was asked about the traffic concerns but had not responded at the time of publication.

While the RACQ has called for duplication of the bridge, the council has focussed local funding on an Indooroopilly riverwalk, while the State Government is pushing ahead with a separate plan to duplicate the Centenary Bridge at Jindalee.

InQueensland’s Media Academy is a partnership involving Education Queensland and UQ, teaching high school students about critical thinking and the journalism skills needed to develop the next generation of public interest journalists. Their stories will be published regularly by InQueensland.

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