By TONY FOSTER*
THE Brighton Municipality received a positive boost in July with further confirmation of three highly-anticipated, much-needed and welcomed major developments – the replacement Bridgewater Bridge, the new Brighton High School and the upgrading of the Jordan River Learning Centre School Farm.
Each of these projects is strongly supported by Brighton Council and individually and collectively they will provide a significant lift to our local economy and social fabric.
Following the latest announcements, Council is continuing its discussions and cooperation with the other tiers of government to ensure we get the very best outcome for our community.
The $576 million replacement of the Bridgewater Bridge will be Tasmania’s largest-ever transport infrastructure project and its impact on our municipality, southern Tasmania and indeed the entire State, will be immense. It will create employment, economic activity and more importantly, reduce traffic congestion greatly improving Brighton’s connectivity with greater Hobart and enhance road transport between the north and south of the State.
The State Government has released the approved design requirements for the new bridge, which are broadly consistent with Council’s representations and previous community consultation.
Based on these design requirements, the new bridge will feature two vehicle lanes each way, as well as cycle and pedestrian facilities. There is no provision for light rail, but the State Government has expressed its commitment to preserving the existing rail corridor. That is a wise move and although the desired northern suburbs light rail service may be little more than a pipe dream at this stage, the rail corridor could provide an important public transport option in the future.
The new Bridgewater Bridge will cater for Tasmania’s needs well into the future and at the same height as the Bowen Bridge, it will allow for ferries and other river traffic to pass through and navigate up to New Norfolk. Rather than left in place and blocking the river, the current lift-span could be dismantled and reassembled nearby should people want to appreciate its heritage values. The design criteria appear to recognise this.
Undoubtedly, the joint Commonwealth and State Government-funded replacement bridge will make a huge difference to the Brighton Municipality and its community.
Ours is the fastest-growing region in Tasmania and the greatly improved transport connection to Hobart, plus the economic activity generated by the project will only enhance this growth.
The bridge design announcement came at the same time as the State Government advancing plans for the Brighton High School and the upgrading of the School Farm.
This represents important progress and again, will encourage families to move to Brighton to enjoy all the lifestyle benefits and facilities of our municipality. Our growth is being driven by young families who find our municipality to be a wonderful place to establish homes and bring up children. As well as catering for existing demand from local families, a new high school will only encourage this growth.
As is now well known, the new Brighton High School will be developed on a 10-hectare site on Elderslie Road. Council is now working with the Department of Education on a master plan for the local area.
The new high school represents a major educational advance for our community and for people in the surrounding regions. The Jordan River Learning Federation does a wonderful job, but its capacity is insufficient for our growing community. Every school day, hundreds of children from our municipality travel to Glenorchy and beyond for their education. This puts a strain on their families and on our transport system.
Fortunately, the State Government has recognised this. Now with the site chosen, Brighton can look forward to the commencement of works and we can see the high school begin to materialise.
While the completed development will take time, the Government has also developed concept plans for the revitalisation of the School Farm. These are now out for local public comment with actual work scheduled to commence in early 2021. The upgrading will enable the farm to expand its educational offerings to provide valuable employment-ready animal husbandry and horticultural studies for our young people.
These are exciting times and Brighton Council looks forward to continuing to work with the State and Commonwealth Governments in the delivery of the important projects.
We are already in the midst of a period of record growth and development and these initiatives will only add to this. Undoubtedly, Brighton is on the cusp of a period of significant economic expansion, with the growth of the past decade, current development activity, along with these planned major infrastructure projects and the opening up of new economic opportunities, providing for an exciting future.
Despite the disruption of the COVID-19 emergency, the prospects for the Brighton Municipality are very bright indeed.
Tony Foster AM OAM JP is Mayor of Brighton