State must respond to Bridge funding failure  

THE State Government must now tell Tasmanians when work will begin on the replacement of the Bridgewater Bridge following the failure to secure funding in last night’s Federal Budget.

In April last year Infrastructure Minister Rene Hidding 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.

Bridgewater Bridge

At the time, Mr Hidding said the Government would not fail where other governments had, and he was confident of success.

The 70-year-old bridge has been beset by maintenance issues for years with lifting span malfunctions continuing after a multi-million-dollar upgrade.

Brighton Mayor Tony Foster said the failure to secure funding in the recent Federal budget was extremely disappointing and it was now up to the State Government to announce a firm timetable for the replacement bridge and also say how it was going to secure the necessary funding.

“Minister Rene Hidding has described a new Bridgewater bridge as the single biggest transport infrastructure project in Tasmania since the construction of the Tasman Bridge. Well it seems that it is not going to be built for some time,” Cr Foster said.

“The impact will be felt, not only in Brighton which is experiencing considerable growth, but also in the wider region that relies on the Bridgewater Bridge as a key north – south link.

“The existing Bridge was built in the 1940s and requires urgent replacement because of 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“Add to this the almost 20,000 vehicles that cross each day, traffic bottlenecks and other issues, and it is seriously out of date.

“Despite all this it seems the State Government was unable to convince its Commonwealth counterpart of the need and this vital Tasmanian project has now met with deaf ears in Canberra.”

Cr Foster said the State Government had talked of construction commencing in 2019 and the project needed funding in this round of the Commonwealth’s infrastructure investment plan.

“A replacement bridge has been promised over and over again and its commencement simply cannot be put off any longer.

“2019 is now less than two years away and the State Government must now tell us how this important project will proceed.”