Bridgewater Bridge must be a bridge for the future

BRIGHTON Mayor Tony Foster says the design for a new Bridgewater Bridge must meet future needs and not just current-day demands.

Cr Foster said as a vital link in the north-south network, Bridgewater needed a bridge that would meet Tasmania’s requirements for next 100 years.

The design needed to be visionary and cater for pedestrians, cyclists and proposals for light rail, as well as motor vehicle traffic.

Cr Foster said a vision for the future was a vital component of leadership and sadly, leadership was lacking in the current proposal to replace the Bridgewater Bridge.

He said to leave the lift-span in place because of its so-called heritage value was ridiculous in the extreme.

In April last year, the State Government unveiled designs for a new four-lane bridge and said the State Government was preparing a case for Federal funding to meet the $535 million price tag. However, no funding was forthcoming in the most recent budget and the State Government is yet to announce a firm timetable for the replacement bridge or how it plans to secure the necessary funds.

“The existing Bridge was built in the 1940s and requires urgent replacement because of the restrictions it places on vehicles travelling on the Midland Highway, our most important road freight corridor. Add to this the almost 20,000 vehicles that cross each day, traffic bottle-necks and other issues. The bridge is seriously out of date.

“We need to design and build a new Bridgewater Bridge that will cater for Tasmania’s needs for the next 100 years,” Cr Foster said.

“The current proposal does not meet those needs and does not encapsulate any vision for the transport requirements for future generations.

“In fact, the Bridge will most likely be out of date before it is built.

“We need to design a bridge that has a minimum four lanes – two in each direction and it must have a pathway for pedestrian traffic, a separate and separated bicycle path and provision for a light rail track.

“It should allow for ferries, yachts and other river traffic to pass through and navigate up to New Norfolk. Rather than blocking the river, the lift-span can be dismantled and reassembled nearby should people want to appreciate its so-called heritage values.

“As well as providing for cars, trucks and other transport, people need to feel safe and secure walking or cycling across the new bridge.”

Cr Foster said it was critical that the bridge design catered for light rail.

“Light rail from the Hobart city to Bridgewater/Brighton should be the first stage and allow

for further connections to be progressively developed.

“The University STEM proposal for the Hobart city centre is a great initiative and I am sure with a good transport system from Brighton and the Southern Midlands more of our young people would be encouraged to take up tertiary education.

“And while the STEM Centre is being designed, we should be taking the opportunity to construct an underground transport hub that can remove bus congestion from the Hobart Mall and inner-city streets.”

Cr Foster said infrastructure of benefit to future generations should not be determined on a political whim to win votes today. It should come from a bi-partisan and visionary approach that may not even be apparent to current politicians but should be to their expert advisers.

“The Midland Highway debacle is typical of political pork-barrelling rather than a design and upgrading program to meet the needs of future generations.

“The replacement for the Bridgewater Bridge provides the opportunity for a fresh and dare I say, visionary approach from both the Liberal and Labor parties so which ever party wins government at the next election provides the best solution.

“We have one opportunity and it’s vital that we get it right,” Cr Foster said.