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Brisbane Olympics and What it Means For Infrastructure

01 Nov View of Brisbane City Eagle St

In 2032, the Olympic Games will take place in Brisbane between 23 July and 8 August. The Olympic Games will result in a considerable influx of tourists, athletes, and media. As a result of this influx of tourism and need for accessibility to sporting arenas, the Queensland Government will be investing in the upgrade of the Brisbane City Infrastructure as well as the transport and road systems between Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast.

The world’s largest sporting event, including the Olympics and the Paralympic Games, will be gracing the streets of Brisbane, Australia, in the next decade. Hosting the Olympic Games is a prestigious and exciting time for any city. It puts your country (and your country’s infrastructure) on the grand stage, broadcasting to a worldwide audience. It’s no wonder the hosts often invest huge sums of money into making an impression — or not making any obvious mistakes. 

Historically, hosting the Olympics means investing large sums of government money on structural upgrades so the city can handle the swell of tourists and athletes gallivanting around during the Olympics’ buzzing period. Typically, this meant building stadiums, arenas, and other venues, for the games themselves to take place.

Throughout the history of the Olympic Games, every host nation has encountered its own set of unique problems. Rio de Janeiro appears to be still recovering from the effects of hosting, and economists disagree on whether the opportunity to host really boosts a country’s economy. However, the event does give governments and industry a reason to invest in much-needed infrastructure, or bring forward deadlines for existing projects, while also allowing for some return on the investment.

What is Brisbane’s budget for the Olympics?

Brisbane has proposed a budget of $4.5 billion for the 2032 games. However, the budget does not include infrastructure already in the development pipeline. Nor does it include changes that will need to occur for new roads, public transport or the cost of security and staff. 

However, if past hosts can teach us anything, it’s that budgets are only a rough estimation. Rio de Janeiro spent $14 billion on hosting the games, which was 352% over their estimated budget. London spent nearly $15 billion, exceeding its budget by 76%.

What’s Brisbane doing differently?

At first glance, Brisbane’s budget may seem a little idealistic, coming in at just under one-third of what Rio de Janeiro spent. However, this is because the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has outlined their 2020 ‘New Norm’ reforms, in which applicants were advised to reduce their expenditure on new venues and instead rely on existing arenas and venues. Brisbane has listened; 84% of the venues that will be used for the Olympics will be either existing or temporary structures. 

The IOC aims to reduce unnecessary risk and waste associated with hosting the games and instead allow host cities more flexibility when bidding for the event. Many of the infrastructure upgrades are not solely meant for Olympic use but aim to improve transportation and efficiency within the city as a whole. However, these projects are now slated to meet Olympic deadlines, sometimes pushing forward expected completion dates. 

While specific named projects have been greenlit due to winning the Olympic bid, the infrastructure upgrades are far more wide-ranging and comprehensive than new swimming pools and javelin ranges. The city will require roads, traffic systems, transportation, and upgrades. In 2000, the Sydney Olympics attracted 6.7 million attendees. Meanwhile, the London Olympics attracted over 8 million. Many of these lucky ticket holders will be descending from overseas and interstate, prompting a rapid population swell, which existing infrastructure would not be able to handle.

Transportation infrastructure projects planned for the Brisbane Olympics

We can be sure that residents of Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast will see a slew of new projects undergoing construction within the next decade, specifically in transportation. Both residents and industry will benefit from these projects, but what specifically has the government promised to provide throughout this period? Let us take a look at some of the proposed projects.

Gabba underground terminal

The Gabba stadium will be subjected to a billion-dollar renovation to increase the capacity by 8000 seats. However, it’s not just the stadium that will be seeing changes; Gabba’s underground terminal will also be undergoing changes. The new underground terminal will play a critical role in getting people to and from sporting events during the Olympic games and will continue to benefit locals afterwards.

Cross River Rail

The Cross River Rail is Queensland’s first underwater train line, connecting the Gabba to the Brisbane CBD via a train track that is built beneath the Brisbane River. This development is already underway, with the 3km of track already completed. It is estimated that this construction will be finished by 2024.

Caboolture Bribie Island Road to Steve Irwin Way Highway Upgrade – CBIR2SIW

The 662.5 million dollar project of upgrading the 11km section of highway between Caboolture-Bribie Island Road and Steve Irwin Way is another infrastructure upgrade coming to Queensland. The upgrade will include two additional lanes, one going either way. This construction is estimated to be finished by the end of 2023.

Brisbane Metro

The Brisbane Metro has plans to be extended out to the airport — originally proposed by Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner to make it easier and less expensive for airport workers to get to and from work. The Brisbane metro is a high-frequency rapid transit bus system looking to be rolled out by the Brisbane City Council alongside the federal government. However, having a connection between BNE and the city that’s convenient and affordable will also be beneficial when the Olympics roll around. It’s expected that by 2023 the first two lines of the Brisbane Metro will be up and operational. These lines include transport from Eight Mile Plains and the University of Queensland to Brisbane city. The project is entirely funded, including a $300 million contribution from the federal government. 

As a result of this, bus lane upgrades and bus terminal upgrades will allow for increased capacity for the Brisbane Metro system. This will undoubtedly ensure a widespread rise in contracts for the infrastructure industry and a step in the right direction in alleviating congestion in our city streets.

Rail upgrades

The Gold Coast and Logan Faster rail system has been proposed with a cost of $1.2 billion. The plan is to increase the number of tracks between Kuraby and Beenleigh, upgrade and relocate stations, and modernise the rail system. This project aims to provide better transportation for regions between the Gold Coast and Brisbane. 

Coomera Connector

The Coomera Connector is a future major roadworks project aiming to connect Coomera to more southern Gold Coast suburbs such as Helensvale. The road will provide additional crossings of the Nerang and Coomera River. For now, residents must rely on the M1 or Pacific Motorway, a major thoroughfare for traffic from NSW all the way up to the Sunshine Coast. The Coomera Connector provides fast and efficient access for local residents and alleviates pressure on the major highway. 

What does this mean for GNB energy? 

At GNB, we expect to see an increase in the number of major road upgrades and civil electrical infrastructure required in the coming years. As electrical contractors, the necessary infrastructure inflow will, directly and indirectly, impact our field. 

While the government will directly fund a number of large projects, this investment will have a kick-on effect on private industry and local government, prompting a surge in minor to major upgrades to roads, transportation, and more. 

So while not all firms will be handed money to go and build out the city, the uptick in spending will result in an increase in work for all related industries.

One thing we can count on is that the next ten years will be a very exciting time for the city of Brisbane and the surrounding areas. 

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