It is an exciting time to live in South East Queensland (SEQ), Australia. It’s even better if you work in planning and engineering. This is because a complex, multi-faceted City Deal proposition called TransformingSEQ was recently launched, followed by in-principle agreement at the local, state and federal levels of government to progress the SEQ City Deal proposal. City Deals are a key mechanism of the Government’s Smart Cities Plan (2016) and provide a new approach for all levels of government to work together to strategise and deliver transformative outcomes for Australian cities.

Queensland is already at the forefront of City Deals in Australia with the implementation of Australia’s first City Deal in Townsville. The Queensland Government and the Council of Mayors (SEQ) are now working towards securing a City Deal for South East Queensland.

The TransformingSEQ proposal sets out an inspiring vision for a region that is connected locally and competing globally. This vision will be brought to life through several transformational opportunities covering the areas of jobs and skills, livability and sustainability, housing, digital transformation, connected infrastructure and governance.

This proposal is the result of months of research, insight, data analysis, planning and discussions. And what’s particularly exciting to me is that early stage strategic insight was presented by SMEC along with Event Knowledge Services (EKS) to the Council of Mayors Southeast Queensland in the form of the SEQ People Movement Study.  This report was integral to the connected infrastructure vision that forms a large part of the TransformingSEQ proposal.

A team of SMEC experts fueled Council’s vision of an improved travel and lifestyle framework that targets a 45-minute connected region and 30-minute connected cities.

The vision for connected infrastructure is to transform regional connectivity to support a 45-minute region and 30-minute cities, with better mobility for people, goods and services. These insights can be traced back to the SEQ People Mass Movement Study. This is a strategic transport road map developed by SMEC’s Transport Planning team that addressed South East Queensland’s current transport strategies, services and infrastructure, and examined how they will cope with the State’s anticipated population growth.

The road map acts as a blueprint to address future constraints and challenges, with the ambition of achieving a shared strategic vision for transport across South East Queensland. The report also considers the key projects that contribute to the transport strategy, including the Brisbane Metro and Cross River Rail, a new 10.2 kilometre rail line from Dutton Park to Bowen Hills, which includes 5.9 kilometres of tunnel. These projects are both moving towards construction and the report discusses the proposed level of investment required to fund each stage of development.

Four key findings of the SEQ People Mass Movement Study include:

  1. Road network gaps are placing pressure on the ability to move around South East Queensland and should be eliminated.
  2. Faster Rail may form a strong regional backbone of public transport in South East Queensland.
  3. Enhancing active and public transport connectivity is key to improving liveability.
  4. The potential benefits of connected autonomous vehicles and technology transformation should be leveraged to maximise the use of infrastructure investments into the future.

A team of SMEC experts fueled Council’s vision of an improved travel and lifestyle framework that targets a 45-minute connected region and 30-minute connected cities.

The 45-minute region can be achieved by delivering much-needed connectivity through infrastructure, including a faster rail network. A 30-minute city is one where, no matter where you live, you can easily access the places you need to visit daily in under 30 minutes.

SMEC is already delivering major transport projects that will contribute to the TransformingSEQ objectives. Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is an area where SMEC’s Transport Planning team is leading the way in modelling and planning for these transformational technologies and policies. SMEC has also been pleased to work alongside the Queensland Government on other key projects detailed in TransformingSEQ, including the Beerburrum to Nambour Rail Upgrade Project, Salisbury to Flagstone/Beaudesert passenger rail, Sunshine Coast high frequency public transport services and early works on some of the open level crossings in Brisbane.

SMEC is also the Technical Advisor on the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail and connections to that project that will help to supercharge freight. It was equally pleasing to see that TransformingSEQ recognises the role of freight and industry in the proposition and its relationship to jobs and skills.

We look forward to seeing how the SEQ Transport Infrastructure Partnership and the proposed Regional Coordination Board continues to develop and mature.

And in the meantime, SMEC will continue to deliver innovative, technically excellent projects that underpin the delivery of this ambitious regional transformation.

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Author Jonathan Powell

Jonathan Powell, ANZ Manager Clients and Strategy Implementation. Jonathan is responsible for business planning and analysis across SMEC’s key markets, client relationship management and leadership of strategic initiatives

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