The flood-ravaged Drift restaurant is finally being removed from the bikeway along the Brisbane River, but a lane of Coronation Drive will shut to motorists while the significant engineering task takes place.

Brisbane City Council’s decision to convert the lane of Coronation Drive to a two-way bikeway, comes after the Queensland government last week introduced legislation empowering them to remove the floating restaurant.

Under the traffic changes, one of the westbound lanes of Coronation Drive between Lang Parade and Graham Street will be closed to give cyclists a safe path to travel.

Additionally, the right-hand turn lane from Coronation Drive into Lang Parade will be removed and converted to a through lane to maintain two lanes for vehicles. 

Brisbane City Council said the road’s speed limit in that section would be slowed to 40 kilometres per hour and water-filled safety barriers would separate vehicle and cycling traffic.

The council’s public transport chair Ryan Murphy said the makeshift bikeway on Coronation Drive was expected to open on Monday morning. 

He said the council had made the decision to close part of the road after the state government advised it would be six weeks before the removal works began.

an image of the restaurant on a bikeway surrounded by debris
Drift was partially pushed onto the Bicentennial Bikeway during the 2022 floods.(ABC Radio Brisbane: Antonia O’Flaherty)

“Since Drift Restaurant has sat marooned on the Bicentennial Bikeway following the flood, we have been advising cyclists to dismount on a narrow section of footpath along Coronation Drive,” Mr Murphy said. 

“However, while this would have been an adequate solution for a short period of time, it is not sustainable for the six weeks it is going to take for the state government to start work.

“We understand that it’s a significant engineering task to move that restaurant but the Bicentennial Bikeway is the city’s bicycle artery. It moves around 3,000 cyclists every day, over a million cyclists every year, so it’s really important we reopen that access.” 

Mr Murphy said the council acknowledged Coronation Drive was one of the busiest roads and the change would inconvenience westbound motorists.

“Unfortunately this situation is going to take longer than first envisaged and safety must be our priority,” he said.

Government moves on Drift restaurant

Deputy Premier Steven Miles today directed the Queensland Reconstruction Authority (QRA) to use its powers under the Act to stabilise the restaurant.

“An independent engineering report highlighted serious safety issues and slated that in its current state, the pontoon is considered to be at risk of immediate and sudden collapse,” Mr Miles said.

“The Queensland government is concerned by the findings within this report, and I’ve directed the QRA to exercise its powers under the QRA Act to work with MSQ [Maritime Safety Queensland] to undertake emergency stabilisation and remediation works.”

Transport Minister Mark Bailey said the structure had posed a risk to safety and necessitated an exclusion zone on the Brisbane River.

“We have a duty to ensure the safety of the local community and to see essential public assets, like the bikeway and Brisbane River, restored, and hazards appropriately managed,” Mr Bailey said. 

The first and only time the powers have been exercised were in 2011 to repair and restore the Toowoomba water pipeline which was heavily damaged in the floods.

Restaurant lessee Ken Allsop told ABC Radio Brisbane he still wanted the former restaurant to be removed from the bikeway and placed back on its piles for it to be repaired.

He said he had been approaching private companies, requesting their support to use cranes to move the structure back onto its piles. 

“They’ve gone and got an engineer’s report on it which I don’t feel is correct … I have taken my own engineer down there to look at it,” Mr Allsop said.  

He said the barge was in “very good condition” and he did not think it would be a “big job to repair”.

During the 2022 floods, water, debris and a shipping container swept into the former floating restaurant, pushing it onto the Bicentennial Bikeway.

The restaurant has been vacant since it was damaged in the 2011 floods after it crashed into the Goodwill Bridge.

Mr Allsop earlier this month said he wanted government support to put the restaurant back on its piles and fix the flooring before reopening.