Highway answer to bridge?

BRIGHTON Mayor Tony Foster says the development of a four-lane East Derwent Highway should be investigated as an immediate alternative to the replacement of the Bridgewater Bridge.

Cr Foster said duplicating the East Derwent Highway from East Risdon to Bridgewater was feasible, less costly and would take the pressure off the Bridgewater crossing so the best possible bridge option could be developed some time in the future.

He said the East Derwent Highway was already four-lanes from the Tasman Bridge to Risdon, and the Bowen Bridge four-lanes connecting to the Brooker Highway.

“Constructing four lanes from Risdon to Bridgewater would provide efficient transport options on each side of the river and would encourage more traffic to use the eastern shore, so relieving pressure on the Bridgewater Bridge.

“The recent upgrading of the Bridgewater Bridge has extended its working life by 30 or 35 years and in any event, it cannot be removed as it is heritage listed.

“This makes its replacement extremely costly, necessitating an examination of any reasonable alternative.”

Cr Foster said widening of the East Derwent Highway would involve some river in-fill south of Old Beach to ‘straighten’ the road, but there was plenty of adjacent land along the route to make the upgrading possible.

“Importantly, this option would link with the Brighton Bypass as well as the Transport Hub and would significantly improve transport flows in and out of Hobart and Clarence.

“I understand the upgrading of the East Derwent Highway to four lanes also has the support of the Clarence City Council because of the benefits it provides to the Eastern Shore.

“I am confident that a comprehensive examination of this option would show it to produce a better transport outcome for a significantly lower cost,

“I am advised that a replacement for the Bridgewater Bridge could cost anything up to $500 million, while the East Derwent Highway option could be achieved for around one fifth of this.

“In the current circumstances, we would have a much better chance of securing $100 million from the Commonwealth for the highway, and the bridge replacement could be deferred for a couple of decades.”

Cr Foster said a lobby group had already been formed in Granton to oppose the Bridgewater Bridge replacement project.

“This should send a clear signal that other possible options should be thoroughly considered and upgrading the East Derwent Highway to four lanes proves a sensible and cost effective solution.”