Brighton Council says debate on the replacement of the Bridgewater Bridge should cease and construction of the project must commence as soon as possible.
Mayor Tony Foster says the Council has strongly supported the approach of the federal and state governments to this major and much-needed infrastructure project and it should proceed without delay.
He said it was disingenuous for Glenorchy Mayor Kristie Johnston and other local Mayors to now question the project for their own parochial reasons when they had earlier supported the construction in their Hobart City Deal negotiations.
“The replacement Bridgewater Bridge is a vital piece of infrastructure, not only for the south but for all of Tasmania, and if we start construction now, it will be a major component in the state’s recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 economic downturn,” he stated.
“Mayors playing parochial politics in the hope that they can secure some of the promised bridge funding for their own pet projects in their own municipalities does no good at all.”
He called on councils to support ‘what is best for Tasmanians’ beyond their municipal boundaries. “The Derwent Valley Council is doing this and is a strong supporter of the project in its proposed form,” he noted.
Foster said the replacement of the bridge has been a top priority for the Southern Tasmanian Councils Authority for decades and nothing has changed.
The federal government has committed $461 million and the Tasmanian government $115 million to fund the bridge replacement as part of the Hobart City Deal. Brighton Council has called for the replacement Bridgewater Bridge for the past decade or more and lobbied both governments to fund the project.
Foster said both the federal and state Governments have reaffirmed their joint commitment to the project and Brighton Council has been involved in extensive discussions with the Department of State Growth, specialist consultants, the Derwent Valley Council and the Glenorchy City Council regarding the approvals necessary to see an early commencement of works.
“Brighton Council has already approved the demolition of one dwelling on Department of State Growth land and there are three additional dwelling demolition applications pending that will enable the new road alignment,” he said. “We’ve also approved the drilling of bore holes on the river foreshore as part of the bridge geotechnical investigation, as well as the erection of two survey towers.”
Additional development applications are expected over the coming months as the project moves forward.
“The Bridgewater Bridge is a vital link in the north-south transport network, and it must cater for Tasmania’s needs well into the future,” Foster said. “At a minimum, it must have four lanes – two in each direction and it must have a pathway for pedestrian traffic, a separate and separated bicycle path as well as provision for a light rail track.”
He claimed the new crossing will improve transport and freight access and the connection between the south and north of the state, ease congestion, as well as support growth and commercial development in Hobart’s outer northern suburbs and beyond.
“The state government released initial designs in 2017 and promised completion in 2024. Now that the initial development approval process has commenced, we look forward to the project gathering pace in the months ahead,” Foster said.