Valley ramps up bridge concerns

THE new soon-to-be-built Bridgewater Bridge will not have rail capacity, which has sparked dismay from a Lyons Labor MP.

Last week a Parliamentary Public Works Committee hearing was told there would be no rail built into the new bridge.

The hearing heard that the old bridge would be removed, with only the convict-built causeway staying and the new crossing would not include rail.

Lyons Labor MP Jen Butler said maintaining rail capability was crucial.

Ms Butler said maintaining rail capability was the main message she had received from the broader community.

“We all agree that the Bridgewater Bridge is beyond its use by date and that a new bridge is a good investment for Tasmania.
“By far, maintaining rail capabilities was the main input from the broader community. “To build a bridge without the rail being present is not rational or logical.
“To deny a capital city rail access to the rest of the state is shortsighted.
“Now with our main freight ports being in the north how rail will emerge in the next 20 or 30 years has to be given consideration.
“We’ve seen the growth of the Derwent Valley, Brighton, Bridgewater, Gagebrook and surrounding areas.
“There is never going to be a better time than now to invest in the future. “I was dismayed that rail transport was not part of the scope of the new Bridgewater Bridge.’’

Just last month Derwent Valley Mayor Ben Shaw raised concerns about some of the convoluted connectors.

“The initial concept design worries our community and council as it depicts some convoluted connectors,’’ Mr Shaw said.
“We would like those addressed before any projects are awarded.”

The concerns centre around the on and off ramps to the bridge, both from the Lyell Highway and from Boyer Road.

When entering or exiting the new bridge from the Lyell Highway, commuters will be required to loop through Granton on Main Road and a new off-ramp where Black Snake Road is currently.

The loop to join or exit the bridge will add approximately 1-1.5km further than the current Lyell Highway to Bridgewater Bridge junction.

From Boyer Road, entering the bridge will require commuters to enter from Old Main Road.

“ We haver ecently expressed our concerns in writing, and I’ve met with Infrastructure and Transport Minister Michael Ferguson to discuss the on and off ramps and connections from the Brooker to Lyell Highways,’’ he said.

Mr Shaw suggested a shorter diversion from the bridge directly to the Lyell Highway, similar to the Glenorchy off-ramp on the Tasman Bridge in Hobart.

“We want to make sure that our community is not worse off than before the new bridge has its plans finalised.”

The new Bridgewater Bridge is one of the biggest projects in Tasmanian history.

Major construction is due to start in mid-2022 and open to traffic by the end of 2024. Two of Australia’s largest construction companies have tendered to design and build the new $576 million Bridgewater Bridge.

Bids have been received from CPB Contractors and McConnell Dowell Constructors.

Mr Ferguson said with increased size and load capacity and a higher speed limit, the new bridge would strengthen Tasmania’s National Highway and boost productivity on one of the state’s most important freight routes.