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The prominent 1940s lifting span on the Bridgewater Bridge north of Hobart will be no more if a new $570m design is adopted, but while some are keen for a sleek modern gateway to Hobart, others wants to see the bridge's heritage saved.
The Bridgewater Bridge crosses the Derwent River, north of Hobart, and is the gateway to the Midland Highway and the island state's north.
Replacing it has been billed as the largest single investment in transport infrastructure ever in the state.
The lifting span built in the 1940s, has had maintenance issues and placed height and width restrictions on traffic.
But the design and cost of replacing the ageing bridge has been a political football over the years.
The Bridgewater Bridge was one of the first bridges built in Tasmania and has had several upgrades but is now considered out of date.(ABC News)Debbie Green has lived overlooking the Bridgewater Bridge for seven years and watched a steady stream of politicians come to make announcements.
"About a dozen times, I've seen politicians and council people heading down there talking about the bridge," she said.
The controversy is set to continue now the State Government has released what it calls a reference design, showing the bridge demolished to make way for the half-a-billion-dollar replacement.
The opening of the Brighton Transport Hub in 2014 marked the end of rail freight services into Hobart from the north.
Bridgewater resident Debbie Green is worried her house could be demolished to make way for the new bridge.(ABC News: Selina Ross)In place of the old structure will be two spans with two lanes each and walkways; one for northern traffic, the other heading south.
The Government said the plans are likely to evolve but show what may be built to deliver the project within the available budget.
Complicating matters is that parts of the existing bridge are heritage listed, including remains of previous bridges and a convict-built causeway.
While the release of the reference design is welcome progress for the community, many locals want the 1940s steel truss and the rail link preserved.
"It's the oldest single span bridge in Australia, it would be a shame to demolish it, I think they would regret it if they demolished it," Ms Green said.
Resident Darlene Carver agreed traffic congestion is bad, but questioned the lack of a rail link — considering the growth of nearby Brighton.
"There's a huge bottleneck that we have coming out of Granton area down into the roundabout, it's just ridiculous at the moment," she said.
"Brighton is becoming such a huge area, something does need to change.
We still need a train line coming across, especially with the area growing so fast now."
Darlene Carver wants rail to be incorporated into a re-designed bridge.(ABC News: Selina Ross)Call to protect heritage valuesMangalore resident Shane O'Sullivan said he thinks it "ridiculous there's no rail link" as part of the new plan.
"There's been 140 years of trains going into Hobart."
"It's right in front of the biggest growing municipality in the state, and they are basically relying on roads again."
He wants more information about how the heritage listings will be dealt with.
"It makes you wonder how they can get away with it, being heritage-listed," he said.
"You can't cut a tree down that's heritage listed, but you can pull down a bridge with that vital infrastructure."
Nearby residents Kelly Grey (l) and daughter-in-law Erin Jamieson believe there are better ways to spend taxpayer dollars.(ABC News: Selina Ross)Mr O'Sullivan and others are questioning whether it's a good use of taxpayers' money.
"They could be updating houses in this area for the community," said Erin Jamieson.
"It's not just about the roads and bridges, you've got people out there who need affordable housing."
Shane O'Sullivan is concerned not enough heed is being paid to the bridge's heritage status.(ABC News: Selina Ross)"They could look at a different way, fixing the bridge up," said resident Kelly Grey, who has lived in Granton for 14 years.
"It is heritage and they should be looking at something like that instead of taking it all away."
Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockliff said the reference design's release was an important milestone.
"Our commitment to see cars driving cross the bridge in 2024 remains, it's a significant investment for our state, some $570 million," he said.
"We recognise people really value rail, but the reference design is the design for motor vehicles."
'Kept in the dark'Ms Green is also anxious about what it will mean for the house overlooking the bridge which she rents with her husband.
Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull promised millions in federal funding for the project.(AA Rob Blakers)"We've been kept in the dark about things, we're not told because we are only tenants," she said.
"The owner will be notified, but I think we should be notified as well because we may have to move.
"There's a lot of anxiety, my husband is quite anxious about things not knowing what happens … I would like to be informed by the Government on a regular basis."
In a statement, a Government spokesperson said nine houses had been compulsorily acquired in 2010 and then privately leased while planning continued.
"Six of these houses have been demolished, with two to be demolished in coming weeks," the statement said.
"There are currently no planning applications with council for building demolition works."
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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