It’s the road closure that divided a suburb, and the Brisbane City Council is not budging with their decision.
From the 15th September, a section of Illaweena Street in Stretton in Brisbane was closed for two years.
It’s all part of a plan to upgrade parts of the Logan Motorway and the Gateway Motorway – a greater project called the Logan Enhancement Project.
It sees upgrades to two of the busiest intersections of the Logan Motorway – Mount Lindesay Highway near Browns Plains, and Wembley Road near Drewvale.
That’s where the community issue lies – Illaweena Street connects the southern part of Drewvale, separated by Karawatha Forest and the Logan Motorway, with the rest of the suburb.
Residents were concerned that the closure of this street would impact their access to vital services, such as the nearby Stretton State College.
What should be a 10 minute drive, according to residents, ends up being a 45 minute drive during the morning peak.
Their concerns were ignored by Council, who ordered the closure.
State Member for Stretton Duncan Pegg has taken on board the role of convincing the State Government to pressure the City Council to overturn their decision.
Mr Pegg has noted discrepancies between Transurban’s assessment of the road, and City Council’s.
“(Transurban) says they can keep Illaweena Street open on school days, and they consulted with the community,” Mr Pegg says.
However, there was a last minute change of heart.
“The Council decided to come in and decide there was a full closure – with limited notification to locals, and virtually no consultation with the school community,” he says.
Mr Pegg has organised various community and social media campaigns.
One event was a community protest at the corner of Gowan Road and Illaweena Street, on the first day back of the September school holidays.
Rainy weather on the day didn’t hamper the spirits of Mr Pegg, and a handful of parents who showed up to support the issue, and lend their voices to the suburban controversy.
“It’s having a huge impact on locals who need to get to work, and of course – very importantly, on the school community,” he says.
“The most ridiculous part about it is…the only reason given by the Council for fully closing Illaweena Street was to stop queuing at the Gowan Road intersection.”
On the first day of school back from holidays, the City Council’s reasoning was quickly debunked.
Before the school start time of 8:45am, lines of traffic were seen from the school entrance, all the way down Illaweena Street – across the intersection Council sighted as an issue.
Some commuters who were unaware of the changes, made illegal u-turns at the Gowan Road/Illaweena Street intersection.
Hear how Duncan Pegg plans to get the State Government involved below.
Parents of students are also upset about the road closure.
Stretton State College P&C President, Louise Nann, says the closure affects the students and their parents.
“The additional traffic on the road means there is a bank back up Illaweena Street towards Beaudesert Road,” Ms Nann says.
She also highlights the safety issues of having a construction site next to a school.
“They’re not used to having young kids on the road…some of them are quite young…so they don’t understand that it’s a 40km/h zone,” she says.
“We’re concerned that kids may get hurt.”
Hear Louise Nann’s concerns over Council’s decision below.
On the Brisbane City Council side, Councillor Angela Owen is the representative for Calamvale Ward.
Both Ms. Nann and Mr. Pegg claim Cr Owen has not been responding to the concerns over safety and accessibility of residents in Drewvale.
QUT News contacted Cr Owen for a response, but the request was denied, with a Council spokesperson issuing a statement.
“These construction works involve demolishing and rebuilding overpass bridges for the Gateway Motorway, which travel directly above Illaweena Street,” Council says.
“Council assessed the possibility of intermittent closures of Illaweena Street, however, traffic information shows that traffic control would result in queuing through the Gowan Street intersection, impacting traffic and student safety around Stretton College.
“Stretton College remains fully accessible via road, for both the community and emergency vehicles, during the short-term closure of Illaweena Street.”
QUT News also reached out to Transurban Queensland, the contractor responsible for the upgrade works – and their spokesperson issued a single sentence statement, blaming Council for the debacle.
“Brisbane City Council, as road authority for Illaweena Street, issued a permit that requires a full closure be in place along the section of Illaweena Street between Gowan Road and the Stretton Recreational Reserve car park,” Transurban Queensland says.
In the meantime, the residents, parents, the State Government and the City Council are at a stalemate over whether to re-open access or to leave the road close.