Bridge bungle highlights importance of communication in construction

Paul Eyers
By Paul Eyers
7 Min Read

An “avoidable rebuild” of a newly opened Gold Coast bridge has highlighted the importance of communication when it comes to major construction projects.

The Sage Street bridge, which connects residents of The Surrounds housing estate with the rest of the Helensvale suburb, will need to be closed and lengthened because it is now considered too small.

The bridge was only connected to the council road network in May but is no longer wide enough to facilitate the construction of the Queensland Government’s Coomera Connector road project, which will pass underneath.

Often referred to as the region’s “second M1”, the Coomera Connector is a planned 45km, six-lane motorway that will stretch from Logan to the Gold Coast and help relieve the region’s traffic congestion.

Communication costing locals

The planned closure has demonstrated a series of poor communication by the state government, further adding to the project’s $2 billion price tag.

Helensvale resident Claire Bailey told Build-it the communication issue had led to an “obscene waste” of taxpayer funds, with no details available to residents regarding when the reconstruction will take place or how long the bridge will be closed.

“The bridge has sat there for years unconnected. How they’ve decided to link it up now before checking how the Coomera Connector will affect things is mind-boggling,” she said. 

“No one has let us know what’s happening or when we can expect this work to take place,” she said.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if one day we woke up and the bridge was just blocked off again.”

State Member for Bonney Sam O’Connor told Build-it that bridge rebuild was the latest page in a catalogue of poor communication by the state government regarding the project.  

“The people living at The Surrounds are very concerned… I know people who have sold their homes there just because of the impact of this road,”  he said. 

“This lack of information from the state government is making people increasingly worried. After more than half a decade, all we have still are artist impressions.”

Mr O’Connor says it’s not the first time the project’s poor planning had impacted the adjacent estate, with the placement of the Gold Coast Light Rail in the Coomera Connector’s road corridor requiring the state government to purchase $74 million of land back from The Surrounds developer.

“This is probably the most costly example,” he told Build-it.

“Are we seriously at the point where TMR can’t build a 16 km stretch of road through an area where the government owns 87 per cent of the land already.”

Stage one of the Coomera Connector, which will pass The Surrounds, is scheduled to begin construction in early 2024 and will become part of the single largest road project in Queensland history. 

No timeline available for bridge extension

A Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) spokesperson told Built-it there were currently no timelines regarding the extension, with the government still needing to finalise construction plans for the Coomera Connector before residents can be advised further.

“An extension of Sage Street Bridge over Coomera Connector is required and is an extension of the existing bridge, not a rebuild,” they said.

“Once the construction program is finalised, further information on the changes required at Sage Street Bridge will be planned and communicated.”

TMR said residents would have to wait until next year for that information but did promise “temporary access” to the estate would be made available during the bridge’s lengthening.

The new motorway has also caused a stir for Logan residents, as earlier this month, Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey announced plans to alter the course of a 29km stretch of the new motorway.

However, more detail needs to be provided regarding the reroute, which includes shifting the road away from the Eagleby Wetlands.

Residents are concerned the new route will do little to improve the motorway’s environmental impact while simatenously resulting in even more land consumption in the Eaglby area.

A TMR spokesperson told Build-it the alterations at Coomera, Pimpama, and Eagleby were “minor” but would significantly benefit the local environment and road accessibility.

“TMR is making amendments to the planning and protected gazetted corridor of the Coomera Connector between Loganholme and Coomera,” they said.

“It was determined minor amended corridor alignment at these three locations could achieve significant benefits in reducing the impacts on native vegetation, wetlands of significance at Eagleby and improve the connectivity to the Coomera Connector for local residents in Coomera.”

Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey said the government had been assessing the road’s environmental impact since last year.

“Since 2022, we have been working on the business case and conducting comprehensive environmental studies for the future stages corridor, from Loganholme to Coomera,” he said.

“This is one of the fastest growing regions in the country, and it’s important we continue to invest in new and improved road and transport options to meet current and future demand.”

“The Coomera Connector will improve safety, transport capacity, travel time reliability, and accessibility for all road users.”

TMR said they are still seeking feedback from the community on the future Coomera Connector concept design. The community consultation period will remain open until November 24th.

Mr O’Connor said that left very little time to finalise and reveal the project’s final plans before next year.

“I would be very surprised if they had the final designs out for consultation by Christmas,” he told Build-it.

For more information on the Coomera connector future stages, please visit the TMR website. 

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Paul Eyers has worked as a journalist for a range of media publishers including News Corp and Network Ten. He has also worked outside of Australia, including time spent with ABS-CBN in the Philippines. Stepping away from the media, Paul spent five years sharpening his tools in construction - building his skill set and expertise within the trade industry. His diverse experiences and unique journey have equipped him with an insider view of Australia’s construction game to dig deep into the big stories.