Go ahead for new bridge

THE much-anticipated new $786 million Bridgewater Bridge has cleared its final planning hurdle and will be open to traffic in three years.

The largest transport infrastructure project in Tasmanian history, last week the bridge received planning approval from the independent Major Projects Assessment Panel. The project is funded through a partnership between the Tasmanian and Federal Governments, with the Federal Government providing 80 per cent of project funds and the Tasmanian Government 20 per cent.

The independent Major Project Assessment Panel appointed by the Tasmanian Planning Commission has approved the construction of the bridge – the project is the first to utilise the Tasmanian Government’s new Major Projects assessment process.

The receipt of planning approval paves the way for work to start later this year. Infrastructure and Transport Minister Michael Ferguson said the new four-lane bridge would be built downstream of the existing Bridgewater Bridge.

“The new crossing will fix the missing link between the Brooker Highway and Midland Highway, reducing congestion and providing more reliable travel times for the more than 22,000 people that use it every day,’’ Mr Ferguson said.

“New interchanges at Bridgewater and Granton will improve connections to the Lyell Highway and Midland Highway and a dedicated shared path will ensure cyclists and pedestrians can safely cross the river.’’

The project will support about 830 jobs, including the creation of more than 200 new jobs. The coordinated assessment of the project was undertaken by an independent expert panel appointed by the Tasmanian Planning Commission with expertise provided by relevant statutory regulators including the EPA, Heritage Tasmania and TasWater.

“Community feedback received throughout the process has been integral in shaping the project, and the Tasmanian Government will continue to work closely with the community as the project moves towards the construction phase,’’ Mr Ferguson said.

“Confirmation of conditions determined as part of the permit will now allow the project team to proceed in delivering activities including heritage interpretation of the area and engagement with the community around the timing of construction and impacts to traffic.

The project remains on track to execute a Design and Construct Deed with contractor McConnell Dowell by mid-year, ahead of major construction in the second half of 2022. “The new bridge will be open to traffic by the end of 2024, with the overall project completed, including the two new highway interchanges and the demolition of the existing bridge, in mid-2025.’’