Brisbane's Airport Link tunnel may be open as soon as Saturday.

Brisbane's Airport Link tunnel.

UPDATE

Brisbane’s Airport Link tunnel will not open tonight, tunnel operators Brisconnections confirmed this afternoon.

And it seems unlikely to open tomorrow night, either.

Despite the overcast skies and chilly winds, thousands happily walked the $4.8 billion Airport Link from 8.30am. Click for more photos

Touring Brisbane's Airport Link tunnel

Despite the overcast skies and chilly winds, thousands happily walked the $4.8 billion Airport Link from 8.30am. Photo: Harrison Saragossi

  • Despite the overcast skies and chilly winds, thousands happily walked the $4.8 billion Airport Link from 8.30am.
  • Visitors were allowed to walk only part of the 3.5 kilometre bridge and tunnel network.
  • The ‘‘Jacaranda Curtain’’ of purple totems marks the entrance of the tunnel at Bowen Hills.
  • The tunnel opens to traffic on Thursday night, or Saturday morning at the latest.
  • Airport Link operator BrisConnections has predicted that between 160,000 and 165,000 cars will use the roadway during the initial ‘‘ramp-up’’ period.
  • Bev Jackson, of Mt Ommaney, who was one of 5000 people to make the 45-minute walk, said the tunnel looked ‘‘amazing’’.
  • The Brisbane Airport tunnel motorway connects with the Clem7 tunnel and Inner City Bypass to provide faster routes between the city, airport and northern suburbs.
  • Motorists using the tunnel can avoid 18 sets of traffic lights and shave 20 minutes from their travel time to the airport.

Brisconnections chief executive Ray Wilson this afternoon said final commissioning of Airport Link’s traffic control systems, which he described as "the most advanced and complex ever installed in an Australian tunnel", continued.

“We’re continuing to work with the project’s independent verifier to ensure that he is satisfied that all systems are operating satisfactorily,” he said.

“Once we have certification we’ll be in a position to announce an opening date for this vital piece of infrastructure.’’

Late last week, Dr Wilson said he hoped the tunnel might be opened late on Sunday.

EARLIER

Brisbane’s second toll tunnel, the Airport Link tunnel, is still waiting for final checks on its complex lighting, directional signs and security systems before being given approval by authorities to open.

Tunnel operator, Brisconnections, said it was hopeful the 6.7 kilometre twin tunnels between Bowen Hills and Toombul would be opened late last night.

But the new tollway remained closed this morning, awaiting further checks.

CEO Ray Wilson told reporters last week he was reasonably confident that the $4.8 billion network of tunnels would be open late on Sunday night.

“I'm still hopeful that we'll make it this weekend," Dr Wilson said.

However, Mr Wilson said Brisconnections was still waiting for final details to be given the okay between police, Brisbane City Council, the Department of Transport and Main Roads, fire and emergency services offices.

Last night, a Brisconnections spokeswoman said the organisation was still waiting for final sign-off.

“We need to be advised of a certificate by the independent verifier,” she said.

A Brisbane City Council spokesman said yesterday that Brisbane City Council also understood the tunnel operator still needed final sign-off before opening.

Brisconnections had originally not planned to open until late this week – the final days in July – after wet weather had pushed back the opening day until August 20.

Media crews were shown through the tunnel control room last week.

Mr Wilson, meantime, remains confident that the Airport Link series of tunnels will attract around 135,000 vehicles per day after the first month of free tolls because the tunnels work between several “trip generators”, including the Brisbane Airport, the Trade Coast region, Brisbane’s Legacy Way tunnel traffic, Clem 7 traffic, the central city.

However, a Brisbane traffic modelling firm on Saturday questioned the project’s traffic forecasting.

Toowong-based Veitch Lister Consulting – which has prepared traffic forecasts for Sydney and Melbourne toll projects - said its modelling predicted Airport Link would draw around 120,000 vehicles per day by October 2012.

However, it estimated that the initial rush by drivers keen to test-drive the new toll tunnel would fade in just over a year to 60,000 as the toll increased.