Jim Soorley Bikeway Nudgee Bridge Closure.

Over the last few weeks we have seen an explosion in the number of people walking, running and using bikes travelling along what people feel are safe pathways, especially on the Kedron Brook bikeway, Jim Soorley bikeway and the new Gateway North Bikeway. Unfortunately one of the bridges on the Jim Soorley Bikeway (linking to the Gateway Bikeway to the Kedron Brook bikeway) between Nudgee Road at Nundah and the new Gateway pathway will be shut for most of May. This effectively cuts the bikeway with no safe alternative detour. The suggested detour from the Brisbane City Council is via the very busy and heavily congested Nudgee Road for approximately 4 weeks.

Bridge closure timeline 4 weeks

The last time a bridge was closed on the Jim Soorley Bikeway (14-21 July 2017 for an entire bridge replacement) we had a briefing from Cr Allan (Northgate) and Council produced flyers outlining the closure well prior.  This time there has been no consultation, the project for redecking a bridge is taking 4 weeks and an email arrived at Brisbane North BUG 2 days after the signs were put up. While we have no problems with bridge maintenance which is necessary for the safety of all users, the complete closure of a high use bikeway for a month is not acceptable.  The signs on the bikeway suggest people should follow a detour along Nudgee Road as an alternative. This is not a viable alternative for the general users of the Jim Soorley Bikeway who include commuters and recreational cyclists spanning the classical “8 to 80 years” that such bikeways are targeted towards. 

Over 7 days in July 2017 an entire bridge was removed and replaced with a new one on the Jim Soorley Bikeway

The timing for such a closure could not be worse.  With the COVID-19 isolation restrictions one of the allowed reasons for leaving home is for exercise.  We have seen an explosion of users on the Jim Soorley Bikeway not just increasing numbers of the usual cyclists but also including walkers with strollers, many more joggers and very pleasing to see whole families on bikes with Mum, Dad and the kids.  We doubt if these people will be prepared to use the Nudgee Road detour.  Around the world there are calls to improve facilities for recreational activities during the coronavirus pandemic with a hope that many people will maintain a healthy exercise regime when it is all over.   Last week over 100 Australian health and transport experts called on decision makers to enact urgent measures to support safe walking and cycling and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.https://mailchi.mp/weride/australian-health-and-transport-experts-call-for-space-for-safer-walking-and-cycling-1664737

Silt on the bridge after 2015 flooding after flooding in May 2015. This was the last time that water reached the height of this bridge in any flood event on the Schulz Canal. February 2020 rain events wasn’t anywhere close to touching the bridge despite slight flooding at Widdop Street and parts of the Kedron Brook Bikeway.

As of this article being written (2020-05-04) there are still no details of the closure anywhere on the Brisbane City Council’s Bikeways and Detours page – https://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/things-to-see-and-do/outdoor-activities/riding-in-brisbane/bikeway-closures-and-detours
Also finding out if any future closures are planned (post bridge works) or if works will be undertaken at the same time as this closure for the Brisbane City Council’s planned bank erosion works which are before and after the bridge is also difficult to find out. Should works on the banks of the Schulz Canal be undertaken post bridge closure there is no guarantee that the bikeway will remain open during these works due to the small, tight and limited available space between the canal and the bikeway. BCC plans already have sections of the bikeway west to the bridge being used as an access road so some sort of traffic controllers will be required going on past BCC bikeway projects. Further details of the Brisbane City Council’s works to repair the western banks of the Schulz Canal can be found on the council’s PD Online using reference A005235667 / https://pdonline.brisbane.qld.gov.au/MasterViewUI/Modules/ApplicationMaster/default.aspx?page=wrapper&key=A005235667

Planned BCC erosion works before and after the bridge

The main issue that Brisbane North BUG members and riders on the northside have about the detour is the lack of safe cycling or in some sections basic and safe pedestrian infrastructure. One such section along Nudgee road is between Tufnell Road and Crockford street where there are no footpaths on either side of the road. Both sides have waist to shoulder high grass, soggy and stagnant water, no road shoulder and in varying sections lots of gravel which only forces cyclists to right further out into traffic from the various industries in the area which only causes more potential conflict from motor vehicle drivers towards cyclists.

It will be accepted that some people will simply turn around and head further west along the Kedron Brook. An area that already is heavily congested with the amount of people now exercising along it.

The area is also an industrial area that sees high amounts of heavy vehicle traffic. It’s also a road that is commonly used by trucks, cement/recycling and rubbish trucks/vehicles going to the BCC Nudgee Waste Transfer Station at Nudgee. Regular on road cyclists along Nudgee road have also noted how infrequent the road is cleaned with gravel, broken glass, rocks, branches, metal plates and off cuts, damaged and broken road surface, parked truck trailers, close passes, drivers failing to giveway to beat traffic and even bed mattresses being hazards that are frequently and commonly dealt with.

A mattress in the bike lane on Nudgee Road
Even a quick google street view search consistently showing debris in the small on road sections of bike lane on Nudgee Road

We initially had difficulty contacting the Project Team as the number given on the notice board (3178 9003) by the bikeway was incorrect.  The response from the Project Team to people contacting them has been that the project has been planned for some time, the work will enable the local economy to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic and the path is for recreational use and there are viable detours available.  The Project Team needs to understand the concerns in the community regarding the closure.  At the very least the work should be delayed until the current fervour for exercise has died down.  Maybe during that time the Project Team can devise a better detour than Nudgee Road.  Is it possible to build a temporary bridge or causeway around the works?  This is often how things are done with road works when a bridge has to be repaired.  Could the bridge be lifted off its supports, replaced by a temporary bridge, the maintenance work performed and then put back?

A Brisbane City Council Bus on Nudgee Road

If you don’t feel the detour along Nudgee Rd is safe, you may like to phone the council helpline at 07 3403 8888 and saying a detour via Nudgee Road will be a safety issue. There’s no street address directly next to the bridge, but you could tell them 639A Nudgee Rd, Nundah.

Timelapse of cyclists and pedestrians using the bridge 2020-05-04

Last Update: 04 May 2020

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