“Growing congestion on Gold Coast roads should be addressed by multi-modal transport solutions as opposed to a “Band-Aid fix” widening of the M1, according to the city’s leading advocacy group.

Responding to the State Government’s announcement this week that it will spend $5 million forming a business case for widening the M1 between Varsity Lakes and Tugun, YP Gold Coast says the money would be better spent understanding the most effective ways to move people around the city now and into the future.

YP Gold Coast President Sean Braybrook is calling on the State Government to undertake an evidence-based cost benefit analysis rather than a business case to justify the politically popular option of widening of the M1.

“What we need to do is understand what the options are, whether that be extension of heavy rail, more light rail, more cycling infrastructure, or more bus infrastructure,” he said.

“We are the fastest growing Australian city and we need to figure out how best to deal with congestion, not just now, but in years and decades to come as our population continues to grow.

“Our resources are limited, both in land supply and funding. Cities around the world are reprioritising their infrastructure spend away from roads and we should be doing the same.” Mr Braybrook says transport solutions should be preferenced based on modes that move the greatest number of people in most efficient way.

“So this is walking, then cycling, buses, trams, trains and ferries. Private car usage is the least efficient and should be prioritised below other options,” he said.

“We need to stretch our infrastructure dollar as far as possible and use it in ways that serve the greatest number of existing and future residents as it can.”

An Infrastructure Australia report, titled Our Infrastructure Challenges, shows that without smart investment in sustainable transport infrastructure, the annual cost of congestion across Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast is expected to increase from $1.9 billion in 2011 to $9.2 billion in 2031.

“We want to promote smart, long-term investment, not a quick solution that serves a political agenda,” he said.

“Widening the M1 may be necessary based on current transport options, but it only deepens car dependency.

“If we widen the road, more cars will use it, and then in a matter of time we’re back at square one.

“There is a real desire to make the Gold Coast a world-class city – and we have the potential to be one – but we need world-class infrastructure.

“Look at our canals – we have more manmade waterways than Venice and Amsterdam combined but we’re not using them – a ferry system could be a great way to take cars off our roads.

“We applaud the State Government’s decision to invest in the Cross River Rail project, but we need to properly consider all investment decisions in transport infrastructure to maximise benefits of the spend.”

Author: Sean Braybrook