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Is the Clem Jones Tunnel Worth It?

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Published December 6th 2014
The Clem Jones tunnel was Brisbane's first privately financed internal city toll road and one of Queensland's largest infrastructure projects.

But, apart from that it avoids 24 sets of traffic lights and that it went bankrupt in late 2013, little is known about this prominent tunnel.

How much time does it save? Is it worthwhile? And who the hec was Clem Jones? I did some investigating, and here's what I found…


Background

The longest road tunnel in Australia, the Clem Jones Tunnel project commenced in 2006 and was completed in 2009. The tunnel uses an electronic toll system and safety measures like a traffic control centre and speed cameras.

The aluminium and steel sculptures adorning the entrances act as light filters, and were designed by architect John Ilett (Gateway Motorway Upgrade, RNA Showgrounds redevelopment) to create an aura of fainted light that would gleam through the tunnel.

The tunnel's red and purple colours were inspired by the native Poinciana and Jacaranda trees that can be found all around Brisbane and Queensland. Urban enhancement was the tunnel designers' priority.



The Pitch

The Clem Jones Tunnel, commonly the Clem7, boasts to be the fastest and the safest way to cross Brisbane. The project was 6.8 kilometres in length from end to end, including two 4.8 kilometre tunnels linking the Southeast Freeway and Ipswich Road in Woolloongabba; the Inner City Bypass and Lutwyche Road in Bowen Hills and Shafston Avenue in Kangaroo Point.

This tunnel aims to reduce traffic problems in inner city Brisbane and improve Brisbane's outer suburban road network.


Design, Benefits and Costs

Fitted with 100 jet fans and 165 emergency phones, the Clem7 also has a smoke reducing rooftop that draws fumes out easily, incase of an explosion. The tunnel avoids 24 sets of traffic lights, which saves users up to 30 per cent of travel time on a cross-city trip, particularly during peak-hour travel times.

Some of Brisbane's major destinations are easily accessible via this tunnel, like the Brisbane Airport, major shopping centres, The Royal Brisbane Hospital, and the RNA Showgrounds. For non-users, the Clem7 boast to have removed significant traffic from existing city roads, which, apparently, has in turn improved air quality in the city.

From 1 July 2014, new tolls and fees for motorists travelling on the Gateway and Logan motorways, Go Between Bridge and CLEM7 Tunnel were introduced. This is because Queensland Motorways adjusts its tolls, fees and charges annually in line with the Brisbane Consumer Price Index (BCPI). This year BCPI was 3.1 per cent.

Prices are now: Motorcycles $2.39, Cars $4.78, Light Commercial $7.18, and Heavy Vehicles $12.67.


About Clem Jones

Clem Jones AO (1918 - 2007) was Brisbane's longest serving Lord Mayor, representing the Australian Labor Party from 1961 to 1975.

A surveyor by profession, Mr Jones recognised the need to improve Brisbane City, which, in the 1960's, had unpaved streets, no town planning, a limited water supply and few areas with sewers —instead relying on septic tanks or outhouses. Following his 1961 election, Mr Jones led the Council to fix most of these problems. Under his stewardship, the City Council also purchased inner-city properties to build underground car parks that were topped with parks and public gardens.

After his Mayorship, Mr Jones was briefly curator at the Brisbane Cricket Ground (The Gabba), before being appointed Chairman of the Darwin Reconstruction Commission in 1975 to lead the rebuilding of Darwin after the city's near destruction by Cyclone Tracy.

His wife, Sylvia, died in 1999. Her suffering allegedly prompted Mr Jones to leave $5 million in his will to fund a campaign for the legalisation of euthanasia.
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So do u think it is worth the cost?
Your article did not properly evaluate?
Why do u think the company went bankrupt ?
Why is it that the usage is not up to expectations?
Answer is the COST as most people can't afford it.
Someone should evaluate how many private registrations use this as against corporate registrations. Would be most revealing.
by kenne (score: 1|10) 1767 days ago
I use the tunnel all the time - it is great. Yes, you have to pay but there are no free lunches. It is a shame the people of Brisbane don't embrace infrastructure that is used already in other Australian capitals and overseas as a way to improve their travel times. Thank goodness we have a few forward thinking people in council & State Government that have brought Brisbane's infrastructure up-to-date with a view to manage our growing traffic problems. I have lived in Brisbane since 1980 and have noted the increase in car traffic over the years....I wonder if those people who complain about the expense have sat in peak hour traffic lately!
M - Annerley
by marit (score: 1|12) 1769 days ago
I think the Clem7 is great. Quick connection from the southside of Brisbane to the northern suburbs and the airport. Yes, you have to pay but there are no free lunches. It is a shame the people of Brisbane don't embrace infrastructure that is used already in other Australian capitals and overseas as a way to improve their travel times. Thank goodness we have a few forward thinking people in council & State Government that have brought Brisbane's infrastructure up-to-date with a view to manage our growing traffic problems. I have lived in Brisbane since 1980 and have noted the increase in car traffic over the years....I wonder if those people who complain about the expense have sat in peak hour traffic lately!
M - Annerley
by marit (score: 1|12) 1769 days ago
Re the building: I've heard of period architecture before, but that is taking things too far.
by andre (score: 0|9) 1771 days ago
Yes. What is wrong with the people of Brisbane? It is the cost of a coffee that we are talking about. I am often going to drop off or pickup friends and family from the airport. For the small toll price, it is nice to now that once I get into the tunnel it will be a quick trip to both the international or domestic airports. So come on, use the tunnel.
by loken (score: 0|9) 1769 days ago
The Clem Jones tunnel is fantastic - no dispute there.
The constantly rising tolls are ridiculous. It might be the cost of a coffee but you may be surprised to know that $4.78 X 2 is a lot of money to many people. Make the tolls $2.00 and you will get thousands more people using it.
by cherry (score: 0|5) 1708 days ago
A quick connection from the southside of Brisbane to the northern suburbs and the airport. I use the tunnel all the time - it is great. Yes, you have to pay but there are no free lunches. It is a shame the people of Brisbane don't embrace infrastructure that is used already in other Australian capitals and overseas as a way to improve their travel times. Thank goodness we have a few forward thinking people in council & State Government that have brought Brisbane's infrastructure up-to-date with a view to manage our growing traffic problems. I have lived in Brisbane since 1980 and have noted the increase in car traffic over the years....I wonder if those people who complain about the expense have sat in peak hour traffic lately!
M - Annerley
by marit (score: 1|12) 1769 days ago
It was worth building, however it is not worth the price to drive through it.
by bbach (score: 0|4) 1770 days ago
When we come to Brisbane we use the tunnel if needed. As semi rural "oldies" we find the signage the problem not the tunnel itself.
by glaso (score: 0|4) 1756 days ago
Well this article DIDN'T draw the conclusion I had expected THAT IT IS WORTH IT.
Surely all the data provided leads to that conclusion.
I have used the tunnel continuously since its opening apart from three months after receiving a fine for reaching 90kph in a completely empty tunnel on a Friday night at 9pm. I was unaware I was speeding through the empty tunnel. I am much more cautious now.Can't afford the speeding tickets as well as $100 a month TOLL charges, mainly on the Gateway. Well worthwhile especially in wet weather
by susie (score: 1|26) 1770 days ago
Yes I think it is as you miss all the traffic lights and get there quicker
by amleht (score: 0|4) 1770 days ago
Yes, it was definitely worth it because I use in whenever I need to reach my destination on time. I found it very safe and peaceful driving along Clem Jones Tunnel. I really appreciate what Clem Jones has done for Brisbane.
Audrey
by audre (score: 0|4) 1770 days ago
To be avoided at all costs! Another BCC fine trap - inadequate signing - dangerous, no turning back when traffic rules force you into the tunnel - a disgusting example of govt manipulation of ppl and their money - worse than the communist countries I've worked in. And the thing feels unsafe, boring - better stay on top and enjoy the environment
by guerd (score: 0|4) 1770 days ago
No
by brian (score: 0|3) 1770 days ago
It is only worth it if the fees were reduced or paid by the State Government. The tunnel was envisaged as an easy money maker from the beginning but with increase fees, spying cameras and unpublicized user conditions, few would want to venture into using it.
by richs (score: 0|3) 1770 days ago
No, too expensive
by maure (score: 0|3) 1767 days ago
Avoids 24 sets of lights?? I travel from the southside to Albion. If I don't take the Clem 7 tunnel then I go via the south east freeway, turning up the intercity bypass and go past the tunnel exit, on the way passing through a grand total of zero traffic lights (I think there is maybe 2 sets on the way back). I usually take the tunnel because I can afford it and the the first stretch of the ICB is not a pleasant piece of road with multiple merging, narrow lanes, tight corners, road works and the sun shining in your face. However, I can understand why many choose to save $1000s and instead take a route that only adds 10 to 15 mins (if that) to their journey.

Its all well and good to say "user pays" but getting traffic away from the CBD benefits all inner city road users. At present the Clem 7 tunnel at peak hour is quieter than the SE freeway at 2am in the morning. Recent price hikes saw usage drop but overall they made more money so the government saw that as a good thing. Eventually the tunnels will be exclusively for the rich at the expense of the taxpayers since the tolls would still not be enough to cover costs. Drop the tolls to $2 and get more cars through so the tunnels can do the job for what they were (or at least what we were told they were) originally intended.
by beneu (score: 1|17) 1751 days ago
Going all the way from Ipwich to the airport it only adds a few minutes onto my journey to avoid tolls all together. The same can be said for wherever I go that could be gotten to via the Clem7. I'd much rather leave a bit early and not pay the absurb Clem7 tolls (and get motion sick travelling in a tunnel forever).
by hugs. (score: 0|9) 1765 days ago
I agree 100% with guerd. If you are forced into the wrong lane, then there is no turning back. Signage is inadequate and the tunnel is very claustrophobic. I
I absolutely detest traffic lights but would rather go through them than go via the Clem Jones tunnel.
by cazza (score: 1|22) 1769 days ago
Yes. I always use it when travelling to Redcliff.
by phyll (score: 0|9) 1769 days ago
The Clem7 is fantastic, a quick connection from the southside of Brisbane to the northern suburbs and the airport. Yes, you have to pay but there are no free lunches. It is a shame the people of Brisbane don't embrace infrastructure that is used already in other Australian capitals and overseas as a way to improve their travel times. Thank goodness we have a few forward thinking people in council & State Government that have brought Brisbane's infrastructure up-to-date with a view to manage our growing traffic problems. I have lived in Brisbane since 1980 and have noted the increase in car traffic over the years....I wonder if those people who complain about the expense have sat in peak hour traffic lately!
M - Annerley
by marit (score: 1|12) 1769 days ago
I cannot believe anybody would say " Who the heck was Clem Jones".
I had the pleasure of sitting beside him on a plane coming back to Brisbane from Darwin (economy class I might add) I was just a soldier cleaning the place up and he was the Commander in Chief, but we got on like a house on fire. At a stopover in Mt Isa the reporters were waiting for him in droves, but he still pushed them aside and said " Mack, get me a beer for gods sake. He was just like the the bloke next door, no air's and graces.
by remac (score: 1|13) 1770 days ago
No, I don't think it is worth the extra expense. I just plan my journey better, leave earlier and get to my destination on time.

While I realise that huge infrastructure requires a user pays system, I am still suspicious of the high fees. I am not convinced they cannot make it more efficient (and less expensive) by better planning, better forecasting, maybe even some more input by the government of our tax money instead of spending it on less worthy and less politically correct issues.
by anse (score: 1|84) 1770 days ago
yes
by trevo (score: 0|2) 1770 days ago
Using the Clem Jones tunnel also costs us "users" in high tolls. I cant understand how it went broke unless everyone is taking an alternative root to avoid it! Smart thinking everyone.
by Trish Spencer (score: 0|4) 1770 days ago
The Jacaranda tree is a native of central and south America and the Poinciana tree is a native of Madagascar. They are not native to Australia.
by adchr (score: 0|2) 1703 days ago

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