A week or two back I took a trip through Brisbane’s new bright, shiny transport infrastructure project, the Clem7 tunnel. This journey was not by choice but misadventure. I was on my way from the Sunshine Coast to meet my kids in Paddington for dinner.
You may wonder how Clem7 featured in my journey from the Bruce Highway to Paddington. This is how it happened. I successfully negotiated Gympie and Lutwyche Roads through the forest of cranes, fleets of huge trucks and other assorted construction hazards seemingly stretching from Kedron to the RBH. The Inner City Bypass was my favoured route to Paddington so I kept an eye out for ICB signs. Suddenly my peripheral vision picked up a sign labelled Ipswich and the Gold Coast. Surely this must be the ICB entry so I swung left, but it didn’t seem very familiar. I caught a glimpse of a slip-road snaking up a ramp as I realised with horror that I was about to enter the yawning jaws of Clem7. A "No tag, no worries" sign greeted me as I frantically tried to find a way to turn back.
Since a tunnel trip was now inevitable I decided to sit back and enjoy it. And as road tunnels go, Clem7 is fine. It’s well lit, without any sharp twists and turns and has cheery signs to read every few hundred metres. No evidence of the fumes reported in the press recently. Mind you, there was no other traffic to speak of, so maybe it wasn’t a comprehensive test of the extraction system. Cruising at 80km/h I eventually emerged on Ipswich Road just before the Prince of Wales Hospital. I was on the wrong side of the city for my dinner with the kids, but happy to have sampled Brisbane’s first trans-river tunnel. Rather than pay another toll I headed back to Paddington across the Story Bridge. It didn’t seem to take much longer than the tunnel trip. There were a few traffic lights to negotiate but out of peak hours it was a reasonably quick journey. Even with the detour I made dinner on time.