Govt's gift to the man who has everything

WHAT do you give the ultra-rich Gold Coaster who has everything?

His own bridge, of course.

Billabong founder Gordon Merchant is now well and truly living the high life, with his own $1 million private driveway across the newly-opened Tugun bypass, thanks to Queensland's Main Roads department.

Every day about 40,000 motorists pass under the multi-millionaire's access, dubbed 'Billabong Bridge', which towers over the Pacific Motorway.

Kirra real estate agent David Stringer, principal of David Stringer Real Estate, said he had never seen a driveway like it.

He said he had originally thought the access was a pedestrian bridge and was surprised to discover otherwise.

The single-lane driveway starts on Kitchener Street, running behind houses and the John Flynn Private Hospital for about a kilometre.

Mr Stringer said the bridge would definitely add to the property's value – not that Mr Merchant needs it.

The 64-year-old surf brand founder has an estimated worth of $805 million.

Mr Merchant is ranked in this year's Forbes list as the 40th richest person in Australia and New Zealand.

A spokesman for Main Roads said the million-dollar bridge had been the cheapest option.

It was cheaper to build the overpass than to resume the 13ha property.

The spokesman said the bridge was the 'only reasonable option'.

“The alternative option to ensure access to these properties would have required the resumption of land, costing significantly more than the bridge. With any road project, Main Roads has a responsibility to ensure people's access to their properties is maintained,” he said.

Mr Merchant could not be reached for comment yesterday.



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