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826population growth and sprawl

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  • Michael Yeates
    May 31, 2008
      From Australia ...

      Southeast Queensland (SEQ) and in particular Brisbane is facing an unprecedented rate of population growth increase from incoming migration ... a "sunbelt" example although also an escape from higher to lower government charges and services than in Sydney and Melbourne and an escape from traffic congestion ... to lower cost housing etc ... also a classic "growth machine" example ... as supply cannot meet demand ...!  Both interstate and international migration is involved ...!

      Planning is based on "predict and provide". Congestion causes pollution and increases costs ... more roads are good solutions to reduce cost and pollution and create more jobs etc etc.

      In many ways, it is the classic Thatcher argument that the economy depends on roads ... and it sure does.

      So the rapid growth in population is requiring massive road expansion ... and lower cost housing at a greater rate ... cheapest on the edges and green fields...!

      And house prices are increasing as are wages and taxes ... and congestion ... and demand for more suburban sprawl ...!

      The current figure is said to be 1500 people per week heading into a population of around 800,000 but was only 1000 about 5 years ago.

      In recent discussions, Zurich and its public transport system and operations have featured strongly.

      However it has been suggested this is not an appropriate comparison or even a reasonable example as Zurich does not have much population growth. Is this true?

      This raises the following general "policy" questions ... (and many more of course) ... but please note, the suggestion is not to completely stop road improvements or extensions but rather to take ALL the commuter growth PLUS some existing commuter trips by public transport.

      The road problem is primarily one of peak hour congestion ... and a perception of poor public transport (although parts are good) ... for information, maps, frequency and timetables etc,  go to http://www.transinfo.qld.gov.au/

      First question ... if cities like Zurich don't have much population growth, where is the growth and at what rate(s)?

      Second question ... are there examples of high growth rate cities that have NOT chosen to expand their roads?

      Third question ... given Australia was dragged into signing Kyoto, what is the international view of a policy from both national, state and local government that funds major roads post signing Kyoto rather than public transport and cycling?

      Final question ... given there is at least some concern globally about Global Warming, Peak Oil, etc, are there any current examples of high growth cities/regions with similar political and socio-economic aspirations to Australia that have embraced public transport and cycling and walking rather more than building more roads?

      Possibly the best source for an update on the projects is via the web ... the local paper is The Courier-Mail  and the national TV broadcaster is the ABC TV 2 Brisbane which had a 30 minute special on this topic on the programme STATELINE on Friday June 30 .... both of which should be accessible via GOOGLE ...

      It was suggested in the STATELINE programme that the state government is spending more than $1.5m per hour 24/7 on roads and other growth supportive infrastructure necessitated by the growth ... with another $100 billion in infrastructure presumably NPV in a new SEQ plan to be released this week ...! Some $6b just announced in road projects near the airport and shipping port and adjacent to the $2b upgrade of the major north-south freeway east of the city. About 90% of freight is by road.

      The Brisbane City Council has about $6-10 billion worth of roads, bridges and tunnels underway in the centre or inner ring suburbs alone.

      In my view, Brisbane and SEQ is a classic example of the North South divide ... as such I would welcome indeed encourage comments to this list but not to me personally.

      The water and the frog are getting hotter ... but the frog still has not noticed ...!

      Michael Yeates ..................

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