THE lack of rail on the soon-to-be built new Bridgewater Bridge has been defended by the State Government.
This follows revelations at a recent Parliamentary hearing that no rail would be included in the new design, which Lyons Labor MP Jen Butler says is short-sighted.
“To build a bridge without the rail being present is not rational or logical,’’ Ms Butler, pictured, said.
“To deny a capital city rail access to the rest of the state is short-sighted.”
“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.”
Infrastructure and Transport Minister Michael Ferguson said the new bridge was always been about strengthening the road network.
“The preservation of the existing rail corridor for potential future use has been clearly stated many times over years, including non-operational rail infrastructure on the new bridge has always been outside the scope of this project and is not possible within the available funding,” Mr Ferguson said.
“It would probably double the cost and mean it would fail any cost benefit test as required by Infrastructure Australia for federal funding.”
On the issue of the design of off-ramps, Mr Ferguson said he had spoken to Derwent Valley Mayor Ben Shaw who had raised concerns.
The council is concerned about the design of the bridge, specifically in that it does not strictly favour commuters to and from the Derwent Valley.
The current design shows an exit ramp towards the Lyell Highway of about 1.5km in length on the Hobart-side of the bridge.
Last month, Mr Shaw said he wanted to ensure the community was not worse off as a result of the design.
Mr Ferguson acknowledged the concerns of the council.
“Derwent Valley Council provided a formal response to the reference design highlighting some concerns with the path that Lyell Highway traffic would need to take, I’ve had very constructive conversations with the Mr Shaw on this matter,” Mr Ferguson said.
“The Bridgewater Bridge reference design released in October 2020 included possible interchange arrangements on both sides of the Derwent.
“The site has significant constraints due to the challenging topography and geology.
“Despite these constraints, the tenderers have developed innovative design options that are expected to improve on the connectivity proposed in the Reference Design.”