Bypass move welcomed

BRIGHTON Council has welcomed the Tasmanian Government’s announcement of a management plan to protect the Aboriginal heritage values in and around the proposed Brighton bypass.

Brighton Mayor Tony Foster said the decision to institute a management plan that will protect approximately nine kilometres of the bypass route was commendable and was welcomed by Council and the municipality.The State Government announced that the management plan would ensure that historical Aboriginal remains, discovered in a levee during the construction of the bypass, would be preserved.  It said the plan would provide for a 70-metre bridge that would span the levee without any impact on the remains.  The Government also announced that a permit application had been received from the Department of Infrastructure Energy and Resources to enable the construction of a long-span bridge at the Jordan River on the Brighton Bypass.

“Brighton has a very strong history with our Aboriginal community. They were our municipality’s first inhabitants and we are very proud of that cultural heritage and our strong cultural links,” Cr Foster said.

“At the same time the community is keen to see the Brighton bypass proceed as it is a major piece of infrastructure that will ensure we can meet the demands of our area’s outstanding and ongoing growth,” he said.

Minister for Infrastructure, Lara Giddings said archaeologists used state-of-the-art technology to conduct the most extensive archaeological investigation ever carried out in Tasmania.

“These investigations found that the 500-metre long area levee area, which intersects the Bypass, contained a stratified cultural deposit of national significance dating back some 30-40,000 years.

Ms Giddings said once the Department of Infrastructure Energy and Resources (DIER) had become aware of the investigation results, it had moved to ensure the conservation and protection of the site through major changes to the road and bridge design.

“No construction work has taken place in this area while investigations have been underway, and discussions have occurred with the Aboriginal community.

“Nor will any occur until the necessary permits are obtained.

“As part of the management plan, DIER has proposed to construct a 70-metre bridge at a cost of approximately $12 million that will span the levee area and will not have any physical impact on the levee deposit.

“It enables both the long-term protection of the levee site and allows Tasmanians to benefit from an important transport infrastructure project.

“In what is understood to be an Australian first, the construction methodology proposed is to launch – or push out – the bridge span without disturbing the levee with machinery, thus eliminating even temporary impacts on the levee site.”

Ms Giddings said that in the submission, there were also proposals for a number of conservation measures for the Aboriginal community to consider.

“These include the creation of a conservation zone to protect that part of the levee that is located on DIER land outside of the road corridor, which could provide a number of opportunities for the Aboriginal community,” she said.

Ms Giddings said the bypass route had been proclaimed as a road since 1987 and decades of planning and extensive design work had taken into account a number of requirements, including minimising combined social, heritage and environmental impacts, transport needs and the provision of safe road standards.

“In fact, if the Brighton Bypass had not followed this alignment, the site would not have been discovered and the area may have been subject to incremental development, resulting in the loss of these important heritage values.

“A number of proposed routes have been put forward by the Tasmanian Aboriginal Council to avoid the levee site and these have been investigated.

“The engineering analysis of these sites forms part of the detailed submission that has been provided.

“None of the alternatives were considered practical or feasible, and may even encounter similar Aboriginal heritage issues.

“The present alignment remains the preferred route.”

Ms Giddings said she had met with representatives of the Aboriginal community to discuss the proposal.

“It is important that discussions continue with the Aboriginal community as part of the submission process to allow for the ongoing sharing of information.

“At all times DIER has complied with its obligations under the permit scheme and will continue to participate in the ongoing process of discussion.

“While recognising the significance of the Jordan River Levee site, nobody should dismiss the importance of this major infrastructure project continuing.

“It is vital Government ensures we build the right road infrastructure to support our growing community now and into the future.

“Importantly, the project has also resulted in the creation of around 400 direct jobs that will extend through to 2012.

“In addition it has created significant indirect opportunities for employment and business growth in Tasmania.

“As the developer of the bypass, we remain committed to working co-operatively with the Aboriginal community to conserve the site’s heritage values for the future, but also to ensure that this major infrastructure project proceeds.”

Further information is available on DIER’s internet site

Cr Foster said that the municipality was ‘humming’ with activity as construction on a range of other private and Council-initiated developments proceed.

“With the range of major activity that is currently occurring in our municipality such as the Brighton bypass, the growth in the numbers of businesses and industries that are relocating to the Brighton industrial estate and the transport hub, the launch of major lifestyle housing developments as well as the detailed planning, design and implementation for the new streetscapes in our area, our municipality is certainly forging ahead.

“We are delighted with the State Government’s announcements that the bypass, which is pivotal to all of our current activity, can proceed.”