Clem Jones Tunnel Australia, Brisbane

Clem Jones Tunnel

The M7 Clem Jones Tunnel (CLEM7), known during its development as the North-South Bypass Tunnel (NSBT), is a A$3.2 billion motorway grade toll road under the Brisbane River, between Woolloongabba and Bowen Hills in Brisbane, Queensland. The tunnel was progressively opened to traffic from late on 15 March 2010 until just after midnight on 16 March 2010. It was completely open by 12:02 am.

The tunnel was originally proposed by Labor Lord Mayor Jim Soorley in 2001, and was incorporated into the Liberal Party candidate Campbell Newman's five tunnel vision, called TransApex, in 2002. In December 2007, Brisbane City Council decided to name the tunnel the Clem Jones Tunnel in honour of the former lord mayor. On 16 July 2008, the Government of Queensland announced that the tunnel "heralds Queensland’s newest motorway - the M7".

It is Brisbane’s first privately financed inner city toll road, the city's largest road infrastructure project and one of Queensland's largest infrastructure projects. With a length of 4.8 km (3.0 mi) it was the longest road tunnel in the country until the 6.7 km (4.2 mi) Airport Link tunnel was completed.

Construction bids were provided by a tender process in which RiverCity Motorway was selected over the Brisconnections consortium. The project commenced in September 2006, with tunneling using two very large boring machines completed by May 2009. The tunnel is tolled via an electronic tolling system. It includes extensive safety systems, a traffic control centre and speed cameras. The price of the toll has been criticised as too expensive and the ventilation stacks as too intrusive.

Patronage decreased by more than 65% in the week following the introduction of a reduced toll period, and remains considerably lower than predicted volumes. Despite being completed on time and on budget, the tunnel has been an economic failure due to incorrect predictions of traffic volume. RiverCity Motorway did not collect enough tolls to pay the interest on its $1.3 billion debt and went into receivership. With no hope of profit and therefore no dividend, RiverCity Motorways shares are now worthless, costing investors millions.

In December 2013, Queensland Motorways, operator of the Gateway and Logan motorways, took over tolling and operation. In July 2014, Queensland Motorways was acquired by a consortium led by toll road operator Transurban, which now manages and operates the tunnel.