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Tasmania - Transport Spending

Tasmania - Transport Spending

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11 May 1999

Spending highlights

  • Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme assistance up $15 million to $56 million.
  • Bass Strait passenger vehicle subsidy of $11.2 million (estimate).
  • $9.3 million first instalment of $20.45 million Federal contribution to Abt railway.
  • Widening of Midland Highway to four lanes at Bridgewater in first stage of major highway upgrade of northern approaches to Hobart, Bridgewater to Bagdad. To commence late 2000.
  • Start of work on $36 million Westbury-Hagley bypass.
  • Ongoing funding for the $66 million Penguin-Chasm Creek upgrading to four lanes, due for completion later this year.
  • Plans to fix Don interchange accident location on Bass Highway in 2001-2002.
  • Widening of Bass Highway to four lanes between Port Sorell turnoff and Devonport to start 2001.


Federal Budget allocations for Tasmanian transport initiatives in 1999-2000 have jumped dramatically to $149 million - up on the $100 million announced for 1998-99.

The spending increase is boosted by:

  • an extra $15 million to the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme, bringing TFES assistance for 1999-2000 to $56 million;
  • the first $9.3 million instalment in what will be a total federal contribution of $20.45 million towards rebuilding the Abt railway on the West Coast into a world class tourist facility;

(See separate Budget announcements for further details.)

  • a $16 million boost to accelerate work on the Bass Highway realignment between Westbury and Hagley.

The State's share of the $1.60 billion Federal Government spending on roads in 1999-2000 is $72.6 million.

In addition to the travel and safety benefits this expenditure provides, it will generate or sustain 1000 Tasmanian jobs next financial year.

While the budget maintains the expenditure for completion of the Penguin-Chasm Creek upgrading on the Bass Highway by late 1999, a further $20 million is allocated in the 1999-2000 financial year to fill the 14 km 'missing link' in the Bass Highway upgrading between Hagley and Westbury. This level of expenditure is $16 million greater than that revealed in the 1998-99 Federal Budget and emphasises the Commonwealth's keenness to get the job done.

Completion of the $36 million Westbury-Hagley project by February 2001 will mark the culmination of the $116 million 15-year realignment of the Bass Highway over 45 km between Launceston and Deloraine.

One of the worst accident spots on the North-West Coast, the Don Road intersection will be rebuilt at a cost of $2 million in 2001-2002 to improve safety for motorists.

In recognition of the increasing traffic volumes on the Bass Highway east of Devonport, the Federal Government has signalled its intention to widen the road to four lanes between the Port Sorell turnoff and Devonport, feeding onto the duplicated Victoria Bridge over the Mersey River. Funding for this work will start to flow in the 2001-2002 financial year, but community consultation regarding route selection can start soon.

Meanwhile, work is proceeding on the Devonport Port Access Road, to which the Federal Government is contributing $1.1 million. This project will open to traffic in June.

With almost all major roadworks in the North and North-West substantially completed, under way or scheduled, the Federal Minister for Transport and Regional Services, John Anderson, signalled today that attention in future years would switch to the Midland Highway north of Hobart.

"We will begin the task of realigning and widening the Midland Highway from Bagdad to Bridgewater," Mr Anderson said.

The project is massive - involving a 40 km realignment of the Midland Highway past historic towns and rural settlements and incorporating a new crossing of the Derwent River at Bridgewater. Bypasses of Brighton, Bagdad and Pontville are planned.

As a start, the Minister said $2.5 million had been earmarked next year for duplication work of the Midland Highway in the Bridgewater industrial estate.

"This four-lane road will be aligned to connect to the future reconstructed highway further north at Bagdad and to a new crossing of the Derwent River at Bridgewater." Meanwhile, route studies and planning would continue, he said.

The State Government will receive a $16.21 million Commonwealth contribution towards road construction and maintenance works on routes other than the Bass and Midland highways in 1999-2000. The federal contribution to council roads next financial year is $20.58 million.

"Maximum flexibility in the allocation of these funds will be maintained by allowing the State Government and councils to spend this money according to their own priorities," Mr Anderson said.The Federal Government will spend $1 million eradicating accident black spots on Tasmanian roads in 1999-2000.

Ongoing junction upgrading on the Bass and Midland highways, more reflective line marking and signage are among other safety initiatives the Commonwealth is adopting to reduce death and injury on the State's 320 km premier road network.

Maintenance work on both National Highways accounts for $5.33 million of the $72.6 million Commonwealth roads expenditure next year.


National Highway in Tasmania

Tasmania's pattern of settlement and distribution of industry means the 320 km of National Highway joining all major population centres is a key component of the State's infrastructure. Much of Tasmania's trade and tourism relies on the transport functions of the National Highway. Major airports are located at Hobart and Launceston, while the interstate passenger ferry operates from Devonport.

Seaports - so vital to the island's economy - are located at Hobart, Launceston, Devonport and Burnie. Road links connect them with the National Highway.

Two highways comprise the National Highway in Tasmania - the Bass Highway between Launceston and Burnie (144 km) and the Midland Highway connecting Launceston and the northern suburbs of Hobart (176 km). Average daily traffic levels vary from 17,000 vpd to 20,000 vpd at Bridgewater and at Burnie, to 5000 at Campbell Town and 25,000 at Devonport.

Heavy vehicles comprise 12 to 15 per cent of total traffic volumes.

While generally the road is adequate for the transport task, future traffic growth will require duplication of the remaining two-lane sections of the Bass Highway between Latrobe (east of Devonport) and Burnie.

Studies are being carried out into the long-term alignment and upgrading of the northern approaches to Hobart (Midland Highway) along the 40 km corridor between Bridgewater and Dysart and the replacement of Bridgewater Bridge across the Derwent River at the southern termination of the highway in Tasmania.

A safety enhancement and junction improvement strategy is being implemented. Maintenance will be an issue into the future. Almost 50 per cent of the highway is more than 20 years old.

Completed works

Weigh-in-motion station - Overweight vehicles have the potential to escalate the annual road maintenance bill. A heavy vehicle weigh station installed at Conara, 56 km south of Launceston, is ensuring that trucks do not adversely affect the condition of the National Highway in Tasmania. Weigh station and weigh-in-motion device gauges the incidence of overloaded vehicles using the highway and damaging it. A computer operator monitors the axle-load weights of each vehicle passing over a weigh-in-motion device, which measures loads as vehicles move at speed over its electronic scales. In cases where an overweight vehicle is suspected, a more accurate measurement is required on a conventional weighbridge. Other potential sites for similar facilities include Brighton, north of Hobart, and Lillico Beach, near Ulverstone.

Construction under way

Westbury-Hagley - The Federal Government is spending $36 million realigning the Bass Highway over the 14 km between Hagley and Westbury.

The existing route through both towns carries more than 7600 vehicles per day, of which 14 per cent are heavy transport vehicles. More than 4000 vehicles are expected to divert to the bypass.

In October 1998, the Federal Government selected the so-called railway alignment for the $36 million project and brought forward funds to allow construction to start in May 1999. Four million dollars was allocated in 1998-999 and a further $20 million in 1999-2000. The target completion date is February 2001.

The project includes overpasses for Beresfords Lane, Birralee Road and Hagley Station Lane. Emu Plain Road and Hoggs Lane will pass beneath the new four-lane road. These roads connect into the local traffic network. A new bridge will carry the bypass over Quamby Brook.

Finalisation of the route selection followed a lengthy investigation into options for preserving the heritage-listed Hagley Mill, which lay in the path of the alternative highway. The Federal Government has agreed to fund all pre-construction costs associated with the mill preservation and will continue to fund preservation work for 10 years after the bypass is built.

Penguin-Chasm Creek duplication

The Federal Government committed to funding the $66 million, 12 km Penguin-Chasm Creek duplication because of its high traffic volumes - among the highest anywhere on the National Highway - its susceptibility to closure due to crashes and the importance of the route to Tasmania's transport task. (The Port of Burnie is the biggest port and main container terminal for the State and the fourth busiest container port in Australia.)

The largest and most complex National Highway project undertaken in Tasmania, its completion in late 1999 will provide four-lane divided highway conditions for almost 25 km from Burnie to Devonport, except for a small section between Ulverstone and Penguin.

The work was split into two stages:

  • construction of the highway along a new inland route between Penguin and Howth. This 7.5 km section opened on 21 February 1998 after 21 months of construction; and
  • duplication of the existing highway on a 4.5 km coastal alignment between Howth and Chasm Creek, just east of Burnie. Work started at Chasm Creek and progressed east towards Howth. The project is due for completion in December 1999.

Construction of the first section between Penguin and Howth involved more than 1.4 million cubic metres of earthworks, including a 32-metre embankment carrying the new highway across Penguin Creek. The new road passes through a cutting running south and parallel of Epson Road at Carmentown. The highway alignment crosses a tributary of Deviation Creek, rising over a natural 'saddle' before descending through farmland to Creamery Road and onto Overall Street at Sulphur Creek. The route follows foothills behind Sulphur Creek, terminating at a roundabout near Nine Mile Road, Howth.

The work incorporated four bridges - Penguin off-ramp underpass, Pine Main Road interchange, and Creamery Road and Hogarth Road underpasses. Sound attenuation mounds and fences were constructed at Penguin and Sulphur Creek to reduce noise levels.

An example of the tight environmental management was provision of penguin nesting boxes under the supervision of the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service at sites such as Murrum Flats. This action ensured that fairy penguin nesting habitats were not adversely affected by road construction. The Federal Government also funded a fish ladder at Sulphur Creek giving native fish, lobster and platypus upstream access. A 140-metre culvert gave similar access to Penguin Creek for the Tasmanian freshwater lobster.

Howth-Chasm Creek - The 4.8 km Howth to Chasm Creek construction completes the second and last stage of the Bass Highway upgrading between Penguin and Chasm Creek. The four-lane project includes two bridges - over the Blythe River and the Heybridge River culvert - and has also involved relocating 3.1 km of the main north-west railway line further into the sea. To achieve this, part of the coast was reclaimed using rock fill stacked above the high water mark.

Construction of the eastbound carriageway between Chasm Creek and the Blythe River was completed towards the end of 1998. All traffic was diverted onto these two lanes to enable construction of the westbound carriageway. About 40,000 cubic metres of earth and rock excavated from the site has been used on the Howth to Heybridge section.

Future planning

Midland Highway realignment -The Federal Government has identified a need to plan a new long-term route for the National Highway along a 40 km corridor immediately north of Hobart. The planning proposal involves possible future bypasses of Pontville, Bagdad and Brighton and a replacement for the 50-year-old Bridgewater Bridge.

Salt corrosion and settlement of the bridge piers are the main problems affecting its condition. However, work on a new bridge cannot proceed unless its location is aligned with a planned new corridor for the National Highway through the lower Midlands.

Meanwhile, work will start in 2000 on construction of a four-lane bypass of the Bridgewater industrial area, including a new interchange serving the estate, associated service roads and a second interchange south of Brighton at 'The Lodge'. The interchange at Bridgewater supports the short and long term access arrangements for industrial development, while the Brighton interchange will serve local and through traffic needs, connecting with future industrial expansion if necessary.

No timetable has been placed on the construction phase, but the Commonwealth believes planning for a new route needs to be determined now, before residential expansion closes options for an optimal road corridor. The plan is to identify an appropriate road corridor in sufficient detail to enable its statutory protection, while allowing development of the local area to proceed unhindered.

It is hoped that all planning and route identification will be completed within the next three years. The Federal Government has set aside $150,000 for studies and planning. The Federal Government will continue to fund maintenance and safety improvements on the current Midland Highway alignment until the new route north of Hobart is warranted. A further $200,000 has been earmarked for planning possible future highway improvements around Campbell Town and Perth.

Safety works - Although small in cost, safety works can generate considerable operational benefits. As funding permits the Federal Government plans to extend night time delineation treatments, such as reflective line marking and audible edgelining, to assist drivers in the wet and foggy conditions applying in winter. Wire rope safety fencing will be installed at several locations to reduce the likelihood of cross median accidents.

Intersection improvements - Further intersection treatments have been earmarked, including the intersection of the Midland Highway and Black Rush Road at Mangalore. An investigation is under way into possible improvements at the Powranna Road junction with the Midland Highway, including elimination of a rail level crossing. Planning for an upgraded Don interchange, immediately west of Devonport, is substantially completed.

Bridge strengthening - All 180 bridges, major culverts and retaining walls along the National Highway in Tasmania are being assessed to determine implications of increased mass limits for heavy vehicles. Of particular concern is the Red Bridge at Campbell Town - the oldest bridge anywhere on the National Highway in Australia. It dates from 1838. Options could include building a bypass of the town, but this will be subject to extensive community consultation.

Overtaking lanes - A planning study will assess the benefits of Midland Highway passing lanes completed recently and the need for any additional overtaking opportunities to reduce traffic bunching.

Maintenance - Remedial works have been scheduled for the Bass Highway between the Prospect interchange, on the outskirts of Launceston, and the South Esk River; and on the Midland Highway at Cleveland, Elsdon and Powranna. From July 1998, the National Highway between Granton and Campbell Town is being maintained under a 10-year performance based contract. A private contractor is required to maintain the current road pavement condition during that period.

Roads of National Importance in Tasmania

Devonport port access road

Fifteen transport companies have established freight depots at East Devonport. In addition, increased passenger car journeys on the Spirit of Tasmania passenger ferry and a decision by Coastal Expressline to consolidate its northern operations around a six-day-a-week sailing from Devonport have dramatically increased port vehicle movements. Their removal onto a purpose-built port access road will generate significant benefits.

Construction of a 450-metre dedicated heavy vehicle access road between the National Highway and the port area at East Devonport by mid-1999 will remove heavy interstate and intrastate traffic using the port facilities from the local road system and provide a dedicated freight route entering and departing the port.

Brambles Industrial Services is building the $2.2 million project.

Funding is made up of $1.075 million from the Federal Government Roads of National Importance Program, $775,000 from the Devonport City Council and $367,000 from the Tasmanian Government. The Federal Government provided an initial $300,000 in late June 1997 for the purchase and relocation of the Orana Aged Respite Centre as part of the land acquisition for the new route. The Port of Devonport Corporation provided land between Young Street and Torquay Road for the dedicated heavy vehicle access road.

The new link connects Tarleton Street at the Bass Highway off-ramp with Wright Street at Torquay Road. It passes through the Mersey Yacht Club carpark.

The main features include:

  • a cycleway on the eastern side of the roadway;
  • a new link road between Tarleton Street and Wright Street;
  • construction of a retaining wall through the Mersey Yacht Club carpark;

widening of the Tarleton Street intersections with Torquay Road, John Street and Brooke Street to cater for B-double vehicle movements.

Media Contacts:
Paul Chamberlin - Minister Anderson's Office: (02) 6277 7680
Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600. Tel (02) 6277 7680 (02) 6273 4126


Last Updated: 19 June, 2007