A $92.5 million dollar vision for the future of Launceston’s roads and bridges by a re-elected Liberal government has been welcomed by councils, commerce and transport.
On Sunday Premier Will Hodgman and Infrastructure Minister Rene Hidding detailed their 10-year plan for Launceston’s traffic, including a new bridge linking the West and East Tamar highways across the Tamar river, upgrades to the Charles Street Bridge, and further upgrades to the Batman Bridge.
Taking on responsibility for Bathurst and Wellington Streets, and upgrading the Mowbray connector intersection are other key elements of the proposal.
“Upon re-election we will immediately commence the planning, design and costing work for a new bridge between Newnham and the West Tamar Highway to accommodate the growing traffic on both sides of the Tamar,” Mr Hodgman said.
“An initial allocation of $2.5 million will be provided for a major study into the new bridge that will include all requirements to attract Australian Government support and funding.”
Opposition Infrastructure spokesman Shane Broad said the plan was “four years too late” for the state government, and that Labor would roll out detailed infrastructure announcements before the election.
“Rene Hidding and Will Hodgman have had four years to address the important traffic issues in Launceston and they expect Tasmanians to accept that they finally have a plan, just weeks from the state election,” Mr Broad said.
However City of Launceston mayor Albert van Zetten welcomed the announcement, noting he had called for a bridge across the Tamar back in 2012.
"We have hundreds of millions of dollars in investment coming on line in Launceston over the next decade – or sooner – all of which will undoubtedly increase demand on our road infrastructure,” Alderman van Zetten said.
West Tamar mayor Christina Holmdahl agreed, saying the pledge was much-needed for the region’s long-term growth.
“Combined with associated works, which seek to address traffic flow in the Tamar Valley and Launceston in a holistic manner, this commitment demonstrates a willingness to invest in solutions,” she said.
RACT chief executive Harvey Lennon described the plan for a new bridge as a “proactive and sensible” approach to Launceston’s congestion issues, and estimated a $600 million price tag for a four-lane bridge and relevant road construction.
Launceston Chamber of Commerce executive officer Neil Grose said the plan showed awareness of the need for a long-term road infrastructure plan outside the political cycle.