By TONY FOSTER
Mayor of Brighton
WHILE we have seen many changes in the Brighton municipality over the past 10 -15 years or so, it is probably fair to say that none will affect our region as much as the new Brighton Bypass.
We have been talking about this major piece of infrastructure for our municipality for almost 30 years, and now that it is on the verge of completion, it is important to outline the major reasons why we have fought long and hard for the bypass to become reality.In short the bypass is being constructed to save lives, support our growing community and importantly, improve the efficiency of the movement of people and freight right throughout the State.
By way of background, the need for a future bypass was identified at least 40 years ago and extensive lobbying, discussion and planning has occurred over the past 30 years to bring it to fruition.
The alignment was determined in the 1980s and 90s and was based on archaeological surveys undertaken and the best available information at the time. A survey of the alignment was undertaken by an Aboriginal heritage officer in mid 2008 and this did not identify the Jordan River levee site. It was not until later in 2008 that the site was identified as having potential for significant Aboriginal cultural values. Once the site was discovered in late 2008, the Department of Infrastructure Energy and Resources (DIER) supported and funded an extensive archaeological investigation and throughout this process it continued to meet with Aboriginal community organisations to discuss outcomes of the investigation and construction options to mitigate the impact on the site
Archaeologists worked to define the extent of the archeological deposit so that the bridge that is now planned by DIER to span the Jordan River levee, does not impact in any way, the 600 metres of identified stratification.
It is important to point out that NO artefacts contained within the deposit will be destroyed as a result of the construction of the proposed bridge.
As we announced on the front page of this edition of Brighton Community News, Brighton Council has provided its full support to DIER’s approach in protecting this area in this way.
We know that the proposed bridge can avoid any physical impact on the site using the current road alignment, that there are no important heritage values located outside the levee deposit and that no burials are located at the site.
Council supports DIER’s commitment to constructing the Bypass and is confident that this option will not destroy the important levee deposit.
In all likelihood, if the Brighton Bypass had not followed this alignment, the site would never have been discovered and the area may have been subjected to incremental development resulting in the permanent loss of very important heritage values.
In amongst this we must not forget the very important economic benefits of the Brighton Bypass particularly in addressing the major objective of saving lives and reducing road crash injuries on the current Midland Highway and to promote safe development within Brighton.
Residents would be aware there have been a large number of vehicle crashes on the Midland Highway in Brighton including a number of fatalities. These have been predominantly caused by the mix of local and highway traffic in a commercial and residential area, the number of accesses and minor road junctions onto the highway and the junction with Tea Tree Road, which is a heavy freight route.
Apart from the human cost, road trauma is a major cost to our community. To allow this to continue, is unacceptable.
Another major benefit that the bypass offers our community is that removing intrastate traffic from Brighton will provide business opportunities and further potential for growth for the region as a whole.
This particular project has resulted in the creation of approximately 400 direct jobs that will extend through to 2012 as well as creating significant indirect opportunities for employment and business growth in Brighton and a flow on throughout Tasmania.
The Brighton Bypass is a vital prerequisite for the Bagdad Bypass and possible further Midland Highway upgrades. This will benefit all Tasmanians.
While we recognise the imperative of protecting this significant Aboriginal heritage and archeological site, the DIER solution achieves this, so the arguments in favour are indisputable. Brighton needs the bypass to proceed. As a community we must support its completion while at the same time understand the need to protect the important heritage values of the area. As a council, we believe strongly in and are committed to DIER’s solution for the Brighton Bypass. Let it now proceed!