The location and importance of the University of the Sunshine Coast has made it a key element in Sunshine Coast regional transport planning decisions made by all tiers of Government. The 2012 Campus Master Plan seeks to establish the best possible links to and from the campus, recognising that attaining the mode share targets it advocates will require extensive collaboration with key Government agencies including Sunshine Coast Council, Transport and Main Roads (TMR) and TransLink.
Several major State Government projects are foreshadowed for the Sunshine Coast region which will impact on the University’s future transport planning. The South-East Queensland Infrastructure Plan and Program 2010 – 2031 will have an enormous impact on the way people travel to and from the University, and include the proposed Caboolture-Maroochydore multi-modal transport corridor, a major arterial extension to the existing Caloundra-Mooloolaba bypass road northward to Maroochydore, consisting of a four lane high speed highway and a two lane service road, and CoastConnect which will involve bus lanes and bus priority on Nicklin Way, with a major bus and rail interchange at the Kawana Town Centre.
The most immediate regional transport initiative which will impact on the campus in the short term will be the new GreenLink. This comprises a bus only corridor with walking and cycling provision proposed to link Palmview with the University and Kawana Town Centre and new hospital. It will have a southern connection into Palmview, via the Energex easement adjacent the southern end of the campus, and an eastern connection along an Energex easement over part of its length.
At the Local Government level, the transport strategy most likely to impact on USC relates to parking and roads policy. For example, Council's Sustainable Transport Strategy 2011-2031 will shift from requiring off-street parking 'minima' to parking 'maxima' and performance based parking more attuned to demand and turnover. It will further incorporate parking regulations to allow for rollout of time limits and priced parking, and incorporate electronic parking management systems. Council will also seek not to construct new roads, except for those required to service green-field development.
TMR’s Cycling Infrastructure Policy 2011 is to incorporate walking and cycling facilities into all new road projects. Their recently re-released Queensland Cycle Strategy contains the four priority areas of building a safe, direct and connected cycle networks; growing a cycling culture; creating cycle-friendly communities and developing a cycling economy. These policies are directly relevant to USC, which should seek to continue to provide for cyclists on campus, advocate to TMR and Sunshine Coast Council for improved cycle links into the campus, and promote cycling through programs such as Ride2Work Day.
As part of the 2012 Campus Master Plan, limited consultation has been conducted with SCRC, TMR and TransLink. This process did not yield any timeframes for new development areas, bus routes or major projects, as key drivers such as the economy, market forces and the timing for population growth are unknown.
In addition to ongoing growth in the established urban conurbations of Maroochydore, Noosa, Nambour, Kawana and Caloundra, several new regional centres are planned which will have a direct impact on the University, as the majority of future growth will occur in these areas.
The proposed development of Sippy Downs has the most potential to impact upon University operations and is recognised as a major regional activity centre in the South-East Queensland Regional Plan.
This development is likely to generate medium density units, coupled with 'big box' retail development and several thousand employees. As a very high level indication of its trip generation, assuming 20ha with forty percent commercial, thirty percent high density and thirty percent low density residential development, the impact could be in the order of 15,000 vehicle trips per day.
Several reports have highlighted the synergies available to a collocated ‘smart’ community and the University . The benefits could include enhanced lifestyle for workers, more employment, innovation and a more competitive edge to the region by grouping ‘knowledge’ workers together.
It will be important that interregional traffic flow between the Sippy Downs Town Centre and other destinations are managed so that the University does not suffer extraneous traffic movement. A strong link is required between the
University and the Town Centre; however the focus of the link should be on walking and cycling, rather than driving.
The University is aware of the potential impacts to parking on campus and depending on how parking is managed within the Town Centre, there is potential for University parking to overspill to the development roads. USC should continue to strongly advocate for the provision of student accommodation within the Town Centre, which would provide clear benefits to the developer and USC alike.
Although the timing is unknown, line-haul bus services may be introduced to the Sunshine Motorway on transit lanes or bus lanes, creating the potential for an interchange with the Town Centre. This in turn would increase the viability of transit oriented development (TOD) parking rates. Such rates are lower than typical required parking rates for development of between 2-3 spaces per dwelling, and could be as low as 1.25 spaces per dwelling, for a mixed use development in close proximity to transit (subject to commercial viability).
Palmview consists of 926ha of land immediately south of the USC campus which will be accessible from Claymore Road-Dixon Road to the east and Caloundra Road from the south. The GreenLink bus and active transport corridor will provide access between the University and Kawana Town Centre, where a major bus and rail interchange is planned.
Palmview is planned for mixed use development with varying densities of residential dwellings. No firm data is available for traffic generation; however the development is likely to necessitate a major upgrade to Claymore Road, and to the two-lane Dixon Road overpass of the Sunshine Motorway. Demand is also likely to develop for vehicle trips between the Sippy Downs Town Centre and Palmview. While a link from Claymore Road into the Campus is considered necessary for drivers seeking to access the Sports precinct campus parking, the management of extraneous drivers seeking to bypass the traffic signals on Sippy Downs Drive, through the use of traffic calming measures and street-scaping, will be essential.
This area is the subject of detailed planning, and incorporates the ongoing rollout of mixed use development including sports facilities. To the south lies the Sunshine Coast University Hospital site, which will become a major traffic generator. The area will be accessed via Kawana Way, which will eventually be duplicated along its length, and via the future multi-modal transport corridor and GreenLink projects. The key linkage for USC will be via the proposed GreenLink, which will provide prioritised bus access - approximately 15 minutes between USC and the site - and a cycle route.
Caloundra South is located to the south of Caloundra Road, and consists of 2,290Ha of planned green-field land, proposed to be accessed from Caloundra Road-Bellvista Boulevard and a southern extension of Corbould Way connecting to the southern end of Kawana Way. Public transport to the area will eventually be serviced by CAMCOS and CoastConnect, with onward connections to the University via GreenLink.