West Tamar Highway labelled inadequate by West Tamar mayor Christina Holmdahl

BACKED UP: The West Tamar Highway needs a plan for upgrades, the region's mayor Christina Holmdahl said. The council has turned down development because the highway is "inadequate", she said. Picture: Paul Scambler.
BACKED UP: The West Tamar Highway needs a plan for upgrades, the region's mayor Christina Holmdahl said. The council has turned down development because the highway is "inadequate", she said. Picture: Paul Scambler.

A Legana resident has labelled the West Tamar Highway “a joke”.

Addressing the November council meeting, Anne Walker called for the council to fix the traffic issues.

Mayor Christina Holmdahl said the council shared Ms Walker’s concerns, but explained the road was managed by the state government. 

As chair of the West Tamar Highway Safety Committee, Cr Holmdahl met with infrastructure minister Rene Hidding in the months before the November meeting to discuss potential upgrades.

“We had a good hearing, but we had no undertaking or any indication from the minister about our concerns [regarding] the West Tamar Highway being left off the long-term budget for roadworks in the state,” she told The Examiner

Infrastructure minister Rene Hidding said the state government was aware of concerns and he had been working closely with the council. 

Infrastructure minister Rene Hidding

Infrastructure minister Rene Hidding

The highway’s problems are compounding by the year because of the lack of funding, Cr Holmdahl said. 

“Any funding that has been allocated has never been enough to fix the problem or has been a bandaid,” she said. 

A State Growth spokeswoman said the department was “working to identify and prioritise upgrades to the West Tamar Highway from Legana to Riverside” as part of the government’s long-term plan.

But the development of the Legana Structure Plan predicts an extra 10,000 people will live in the suburb by 2027, increasing traffic strain Cr Holmdahl said.

Cr Holmdahl said the community often approached elected members of the West Tamar Council to discuss issues with the region’s highway. 

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The West Tamar Council had also turned down development in the region because of the “inadequate” highway, she said.

The proposed development was planned for the United Service Station at Legana, but the council said the Bridgenorth Road intersection would not be able to cope with the increased traffic movements. 

“Turning down development is never a thing that council wants to do. Developments such as the United petrol one was going to bring employment opportunities, and prosperity to the whole area,” Cr Holmdahl said. 

“Developments like that don’t come along that often.”

West Tamar mayor Christina Holmdahl

West Tamar mayor Christina Holmdahl

The West Tamar Council conducted its own traffic count for the users of the road, and says the findings are comparable with the official count from the Department of State Growth, with more than 26,000 motorists using the highway daily. 

The council’s traffic count showed south of Ecclestone Road has 20,500 movements and north of Cormiston Road records 14,600. 

“North of Brady’s Lookout has 6160 movements per day which is comparable of movements through Campbell Town on Midland Highway,” Cr Holmdahl said. 

“I think people will be surprised when they realise how many cars travel on the West Tamar Highway.”

State Growth said the department had undertaken recent upgrades to Brady’s Lookout, but current upgrade priorities were else where. 

“Road priorities in greater Launceston include the upgrade to the intersection of the East Tamar Highway and Mowbray Interconnector and planning to service the University of Tasmania’s new Inveresk campus,” the spokeswoman said. 

Cr Holmdahl said the council and the safety group understood there was not money just waiting to be spent.

“We know there isn’t a bucket of money sitting up there waiting to be dumped on the West Tamar Highway,” she said. 

“But, it would be good to know that there is a 10-15 year plan that says we will fix the highway.”