Logan locals fight invasive motorway link development

Dean Burns

Logan residents are continuing to fight the state government’s proposed Park Ridge Connector (PRC) motorway link that will connect the Gateway Motorway to future residential estates in the city’s south.

The project, which is expected to connect Granger Road at Park Ridge South to the existing Gateway Motorway near its links with the Logan and Pacific Motorways, was initially announced by the former Labor government and now has the support of the Newman government and Logan City Council.

The PRC was designed as a solution to the transport issues expected as a result of the area’s predicted future population boom.

But it has divided the semi-rural Logan community, resulting in lengthy consultations between the government and key stakeholders over the impact and potential damage to native flora and fauna, and local lifestyles.

Despite these community objections, the PRC was given the official green light on June 25 by LNP Transport Minister Scott Emerson.

But in October, Mr Emerson said the state government would ‘mothball’ the project if the Logan City Council withdrew support for it.

Council representatives told local media the new connector road was essential in planning for future population growth.

While the connector road is a state government project, it was prompted by Logan City Council’s planning concerns about the ability of the region to respond to anticipated population explosion from Logan right through to Beaudesert.

Two local opposition groups have been fighting the state government and rallying the Logan City Council for support on environmental grounds, citing concerns over the damage that the motorway link would cause to local habitats, in an attempt to have the future stretch of motorway scrapped.

Opposition group ‘No PRC’ was formed in October 2011 by residents living within the “area of interest” as defined by the Main Roads department’s official plans, and exists solely to fight the motorway link.

The Logan and Albert Conservation Association, an organisation that existed before the PRC was announced, has also strongly objected to the north-south link on the grounds it would require the removal of previously untouched wetland and bushland, home to numerous native species.

Central to both groups’ environmental opposition is a 200-acre property in the Logan suburb of Berrinba, which is due to lose a portion of its neighbouring Berrinba Wetlands to the proposed motorway (see story, page 2).

Members from both groups have been involved in a number of protests against the PRC.

The groups have erected roadside protest signs, organised letter writing campaigns, run online campaigns and even lodged a 300-page complaint to the Crime and Misconduct Commission in March this year.

But while both groups began their fight on environmental grounds, the battle quickly became political when the groups made allegations of misinformation on the part of the state government.

No PRC public spokesperson Andrew Morgan said the group’s political concerns were now a major issue alongside their environmental concerns.

“Initially that was the case, but the obstruction of democracy and transparency is a huge issue,” Mr Morgan said.

“It is our democratic right to be informed and have our voices heard.”

According to Mr Morgan, the CMC complaint takes aim at state parliamentarians, high-ranking officials within the Department of Transport and Main Roads, and several members of the Logan City Council, and is “loaded with damning evidence”.

“This is not just about a six-lane motorway destroying communities and the environment; it’s about two levels of government failing to meet their obligations of transparency and the democratic process,” he said.

Mr Morgan said information relating to the impact the project would have on the environment and property resumptions was “deliberately” released incrementally so the public backlash was minimised.

He said it was still unclear exactly where the PRC motorway link would start or finish.

“They have not revealed how the ends will be completed; they have a six-lane highway, 100m wide, without a start or an end.”

Mr Morgan said the group had not heard back from the CMC and was considering taking further legal action depending on the CMC’s response.

He said if the result of the CMC complaint proved unsatisfactory then they would potentially have to raise more than  $50,000 to mount a legal challenge against the project.

Both No PRC and the Logan and Albert Conservation Association said there were alternative solutions to the increasing transport problems in the Logan area, and none involved building the PRC.

Transport Minister Scott Emerson told the Logan West Leader the PRC was needed to address the problems that could arise due to the region’s projected growing population.

“With Logan City’s population projected to grow from about 260,000 in 2006 to more than 410,000 by 2031, an additional north-south link is needed to manage the population and business growth in the Park Ridge area,” he said.

“I understand residents need certainty, council needs certainty and they haven’t had that since this corridor was first earmarked in 2005,” Mr Emerson said.

No PRC supports other means of traffic reduction and expanding transport links (for freight and heavy vehicles) to cater to Logan’s growing future population, due to new developments such as the Yarrabilba housing estate (located between Logan Reserve and Waterford West) and the Greater Flagstone urban expansion plan (planned for location on theother side of the Mt Lindsay Highway heading south towards Jimboomba).

Logan and Albert Conservation Association president Anne Page said there were better ways of dealing with future population growth and traffic congestion.

Ms Page called for the expansion of existing main roads in the area, such as the Mount Lindsay Highway, Chambers Flat Road and Granger Road, as well as the introduction of further freight rail lines in the area as a means of dealing with population growth.

But official documents from the Main Roads department state that while these options of expanding the existing transport links surrounding Logan were considered, they were deemed unfeasible.

“Although upgrading of the Mount Lindsay Highway will continue to be required, there is limited potential for the highway to expand to cater for the projected high traffic demand from Park Ridge to the new communities of Greater Flagstone and Yarrabilba,” the department’s Review of Environmental Factors Overview found.

“An upgrade of Chambers Flat Road…was considered, but the connections to Kingston Road, Loganlea Road and the Pacific Motorway are already near capacity,” “They would be unable to take the projected traffic volumes.”

Interestingly, a vote by Logan City Council on the issue earlier this year showed the local government was not 100 per cent behind the state government’s plan.

Council voted not to oppose the state government’s plan by a margin of seven to four, although the proposed southern interchange at Granger Road was opposed by all.

The Council has not released any statements on the issue, but meeting minutes show Councillors Lisa Brady (Division 1), Sean Black (Division 4), Phil Pidgeon (Division 9) and Darren Power (Division 10) voted against the PRC, while Councillor John Grant abstained and Councillor Hajnal Black was absent.

Logan Mayor Pam Parker has so far been unavailable for comment to The Source.

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