A TALE OF AN ISLAND BRIDGE TOO FAR!
Vehicular transport to the Southern Moreton Bay Islands has always been a contentious issue.For years A bridge to the islands has long been desired by some, mostly of the developing kind.In recent times, the suggestion has again been highlighted by the Member for Redlands, Peter Dowling, who supports a part bridging of Moreton Bay for an eventual cheaper and more economical way for vehicles to get to our islands.He has also brought the debate even further at a recent island forum and in his column in this edition.The Queensland State politician believes a concept that would see Pannikan Island become a launching pad for vehicular access to the islands would result in a more economic and shorter route."I think it needs to be considered using Pannikin Island as a possible location into and out of the 'W's' taking about 1/3 distance off the trip."If it ever does go ahead, it would partly put into place one of the original suggestions that was contemplated for the islands: a bridge all the way to North Stradbroke Island!With the recent summer fires on Stradbroke, the subject has again been brought to the fore.The idea was first mooted in the 'bad old days' of island development.And, The Friendly Bay Islander has been given some official documents that made the then 1985 proposal much more fact, than fiction!Coming virtually from the 'horse's mouth' back then, the documentation we have came direct from the Premier's Department and the then co-ordinator general, S Schubert and the then Minister for Transport, the Hon DJ Hamill, MLA, who also had the important role as the Minister for Assisting the Premier, who just happened to be the venerable Joh Bjelke-Petersen.Ironically, the plan suggested at the time, suggested a route via Pannikin Island across to Russell Island via Long Island, and then onto North Stradbroke Island.No form of construction method was suggested in the correspondence, only support for the project, without financial commitment.Probably a causeway/bridge concept was envisaged then, as would probably be the case now, if it was ever revived.The co-ordinator general back on 29th April 1985 stated: "The Government has invited private organisations to submit proposals for construction of a road bridge to North Stradbroke Island and associated development."The Government recently decided that the preferred location for the proposed road bridge be a route connecting the mainland with Pannikin, Russell and North Stradbroke Islands."Five proposals were short-listed for 'further discussions and investigations'."It is anticipated that a decision will be made in the near future on a developer with whom the Government would enter detailed negotiations concerning the bridge proposal," Mr Schubert wrote at the time.Transport Minister Hamill said shortly thereafter, somewhat responsibly: "If access to the island was improved, this could lead to pressures for more rapid development. "Adverse consequences could result unless the possible outcomes are carefully considered and sound strategic plans developed. Public funds are not available. "However, a private development would be welcome, subject to any requirements of local authorities."That was about as far as it went, back then.The bridge concept keeps raising its head with some hopeful that it still might happen one day and their real estate prices will sky rocket.Others, who prefer the isolation that lack of a physical link brings, believe the status quo is the better option!