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THE Turnbull Government will pledge $461 million to build a new Bridgewater Bridge as part of a massive package for Tasmanian roads and rail in tomorrow’s Budget.
The $921 million of new money will also include $400 million from a new program called the Roads of Strategic Importance, which will improve safety at several points on the Bass Hwy in the state’s North-West.
A second tranche of $59.8 million under the Tasmanian Freight Rail Revitalisation program will also be announced.
The spending comes as the Liberal Party hopes to build on its state election victory by reclaiming the three federal seats — Bass, Braddon and Lyons — lost by the “Three Amigos” in 2016. Internal polling released recently showed the Liberals with more than 50 per cent of the primary vote in Bass, Braddon and Lyons — the electorate containing the Bridgewater Bridge.
“The Bridgewater Bridge is the gateway to Hobart and is a vital access point to the city,” Mr Morrison said.
“The existing bridge needs replacement to remove severe blockages and constraints on the Midland Highway leading into Hobart.
“The Turnbull Government is providing $461 million to construct a new four-lane bridge to cross the Derwent River, cutting the travel time into Hobart and reducing freight costs.”
Last month Labor leader Bill Shorten announced funding of $100 million for the bridge.
During the state election campaign, the Tasmanian Liberals promised $46 million over five years towards the $576 million bridge replacement cost.
A business case was recently submitted by the Hodgman Government. The bridge has been on Infrastructure Australia’s list of initiatives for several years but it was not expected to start until after negotiation of the Commonwealth-State infrastructure agreement in mid-2019.
Liberal senator Richard Colbeck, who faces voters at the next half-Senate election, said it would be the single biggest infrastructure investment since the dam-building days of the 1960s and 1970s.
“This massive cash injection will support 200 jobs during construction and is further evidence of the Turnbull Government’s commitment to Tasmania,” he said.
“The Bridgewater Bridge bottleneck has been a problem for decades and now, thanks to a Liberal Government in Canberra and one in Tasmania, it will finally be addressed.”
Southern Tasmanian mayors including Tony Foster, of Brighton, and Martyn Evans, the Derwent Valley, have been calling for a new bridge for decades. Picture: KIM EISZELEThe bridge was built in the 1940s resulting in height, mass and weight restrictions for 18,500 vehicles a day travelling on the Midland Hwy.
Mr Morrison said the Budget would include $24.5 billion for major transport projects and initiatives that would benefit every state and territory.
“These form part of the Government’s $75 billion transport infrastructure investment over the next decade,” he said.
“The investment in road, rail and public transport projects will reduce congestion, keep our roads safe, connect people to jobs and get our produce to market.”
The $119.6m Tasmanian Freight Rail Revitalisation Program will revamp priority sections of the state’s rail network.
This year’s announcement compares with a disappointing 2016-17 Budget where no new money was forthcoming — although there was a $96 million instalment of the 10-year Midland Highway project.
In a pre-Budget announcement on Saturday, Tasmania received $20 million for biosecurity.
This article first appeared on www.themercury.com.au
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