BRIGHTON Council has expressed its disappointment at the decision to remove the rail link across the Derwent River with the construction of the replacement Bridgewater Bridge.
Acting Mayor Barbara Curran said the decision, made public at a recent Parliamentary Public Works Committee hearing, would effectively sound the death knell for any northern suburbs light rail project, but more importantly, would reduce public transport options for the rapidly growing Brighton Municipality.
Brighton Council has long called for the rail corridor across the bridge to be maintained, either for light rail, dedicated bus services or other transport options.
“Brighton is one of, if not the fastest-growing region in the State and it requires significantly better public transport services to cater for an expanding community, and to ensure its future sustainability and development,” Cr Curran said.
“The reality is that light rail is little more than a pipe dream, and without access to the Brighton Municipality’s growing population, it could never justify the required massive government funding.
“Now it seems that the bureaucrats have determined that it’s off the table, so no provision for a track has been made in the design for the new bridge and the old bridge is to be demolished.”
Cr Curran urged the designers to reconsider their plans and include provisions for a dedicated light rail or similar public transport services.
“Council’s position has always been that the new Bridgewater Bridge must cater for Tasmania’s needs now and well into the future.
“At a minimum, it must have four lanes – two in each direction, a pathway for pedestrian traffic, a separated bicycle path, as well as provision for a light rail track or alternate public transport option.
“It is very short-sighted to leave out a rail line option in the plans for the new bridge, not just for potential passengers but also for freight coming from the Brighton depot into Hobart.
“While our population may be too small to justify a regular passenger rail service at the moment,
More frequent bus services could utilise the rail corridor and make the buses free. Making the service accessible would remove a lot of traffic off the road and create opportunities for housing and businesses along the corridor.
“This is a $567 million investment, and to rule out a reliable public transport option when such services are crucial to the wellbeing of our community and the sustainability of our region is disappointing in the extreme.
“Brighton Council calls for a reconsideration of this decision as a matter of urgency,” Cr Curran said.