A SEEMINGLY abrubt u-turn by the government to shift the route of the Coomera Connector isn’t good enough, according to those who’ve fought the massive highway project for the past four years.
The state government has re-launched calls for community engagement which it says will discuss new routes.
Eagleby residents say the move is shrouded in more secrecy.
And opposition politicians say all possible alternatives for the highway should be laid bare if true community engagement is to take place.
The Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) on Friday afternoon announced amendments to the gazetted corridor of the Connector to “help reduce the environmental impact” on the Eagleby wetlands.
The new route, subject to approval and a community consultation period, will see the Logan River crossing be moved.
According to TMR, this alternative:
• eliminates impacts to wetlands on the western side of Eagleby and reduces impacts north of Eagleby Road
• eliminates impacts on native vegetation (Coastal Swamp Sclerophyll Forest) on the western side of Eagleby
• provides a more direct link between the Logan Motorway and Pacific Motorway interchange
• is further away from residential areas
• has a good hydraulic performance without adverse effects to nearby dwellings.
Despite being “further away from residential areas”, The Eagleby Community and Wetlands Group, which has been campaigning against the connector for four years, said the new plan was “not a win in any way”.
“It’s still going to be on a flood plain anyway,” group member Robert Livingstone said.
“They say they have exciting news, but it’s not a win for us.”
The group previously submitted an alternative route for the connector to bypass damage to the wetlands, but it was rejected by TMR in 2021, along with five other submissions.
Mr Livingstone said TMR have begun eyeing off “even more land” belonging to local cane farmer Mick Hurst, whose property will be intercepted by the Connector.
TMR said discussions with “impacted property owners” were “currently underway”.
Queensland One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts, who previously met with the Wetlands group, told MyCityLogan the government needed to “release detailed plans for the new alignment as soon as possible if they are serious about community consultation”.
“This is a bit of an embarrassing backflip by TMR Minister Mark Bailey who has always maintained there is nothing wrong with the route until now,” Senator Roberts said.
“I’ll be waiting for Transport and Main Roads to release the detail on their new alignment before we can say if they’ve struck the right balance.
“Right now, all we have to go on is a media article and we need more detail.”
Transport Minister Mark Bailey said he encouraged the community to “provide feedback on the concept design”.
Community consultation on the amended design is open until 24 November.
TMR will share details on the concept design, including interchange locations and layouts developed, as part of the business case which will be finalised in late 2023.
Federal Transport Minister Catherine King said the 45km Connector was a “game-changer” for locals.
“It means less time stuck in traffic and more time with your loved ones,” she said.
“We know that road congestion is a significant issue for the region and a drain on the economy which is why we’re getting on with delivering this critical piece of infrastructure.
“Identifying opportunities where we can minimise the impacts on the environment is an important part of planning Australian and Queensland government infrastructure projects and I welcome the changes to the alignment.”
Formal gazettal of the corridor will not take place until the business case is finalised.