From the President - Progress on road upgrades
There is a concerning lack of progress on upgrades to a large part Tasmania’s road infrastructure that have been promised by the state and federal governments. This has an impact on both road safety and traffic congestion.
A review of our key road funding priorities – as identified in state budget submissions, federal budget and election priorities, our 30-year Greater Hobart Mobility Vision and our Tasmanian Road Futures document – has rated governmental progress against our expectations.
Aside from the Midland Highway 10-year plan – which is ahead of schedule – there has been little progress on other upgrades beyond funding under budget forward estimates and planning.
Below is a breakdown of progress by priority area:
Bass Highway 10-year plan
We have been calling for urgent safety upgrades on the Bass Highway for some time, particularly the corridor between Wynyard and Marrawah. There have been 259 crashes on this particular stretch of road between 2015-2019, with two resulting in fatalities and 12 in serious injury.
Apart from the tragic and irreversible impact on the victims’ families and community, we know that in 2015 the economic cost of each road fatality was $4.34 million, and the cost per hospitalisation caused by road injury was $239,000.
To date, $100 million has been promised for the Wynyard to Marrawah corridor by the state and federal governments under the Roads of Strategic Importance initiative. While planning has commenced, we are yet to see confirmed timelines on these vital upgrades.
Other upgrades that we have been calling for include safety improvements at Christmas Hills, and new passing lanes at Parramatta Creek, which are are still in the planning phase. Upgrades of intersections at Wynyard have been completed, but there is still the potential for high-speed crashes involving vehicles turning across traffic, which has always been our concern at these intersections. With this in mind, they continue to be on our radar.
Launceston traffic solutions
We have had repeated reports from members and our advisory committee about rapidly growing congestion issues in the Greater Launceston area. We are planning to launch a consultation process in the coming months for our Greater Launceston Mobility Vision that will look at a holistic, long-term solution to mobility across the region.
In the meantime, we have been calling for a feasibility study regarding a new bridge over the Tamar River, as well as funding for long-term congestion strategies across the region. At this point in time both of these have been allocated funding, but timelines for some projects have not been confirmed. Without a commitment to resolving congestion, it continues to build in the region, causing frustration and adverse impact to people’s lifestyles.
30-year Greater Hobart Mobility Vision
Almost one year on from the launch of our Vision, we have seen funding and some research into the priority actions we have called for in the first 1-5 years. We have seen enforcement of clearways on Macquarie and Davey streets, and more cohesive planning from the four central councils in the Greater Hobart area to work on solutions.
However, a lot more needs to be done to achieve our preferred 4% mode shift from private to public transport in the first 10 years of the Vision.
Our Vision for Greater Hobart in part relies on projects already committed to – such as the replacement of the Bridgewater Bridge and improvements on the eastern Hobart approach – to already be well under way and completed within the first 10 years of the Vision.
Again, while funding has been committed by both state and federal governments for a replacement bridge at Bridgewater, we are still yet to see confirmed plans or a timeframe on this work.
Similarly, funding has been allocated for the South East Traffic Solution between Sorell and the Tasman Bridge, but aside from the Hobart Airport interchange, no firm plans or timelines have been revealed.
Tasmanian tourist roads
Pleasingly, we have seen good progress on some of our calls for upgrades to key tourist roads, including safety upgrades and sealing of Hastings Caves Rd in the south, and the completion of current works on Richmond Rd between Cambridge and Richmond.
We have also recently seen plans for the upgrade of the Arthur Highway at Eaglehawk Neck, and have submitted our feedback to the state government on these.
We are now asking the state government to turn its focus to other key tourist infrastructure including safety upgrades on Bruny Island Main Rd; and lane widening and shoulder sealing on the Stanley Highway.
Road safety upgrades
Also of great concern is the lack of progress on vital road safety upgrades at potential black spots around the state.
While we have seen some improvements on the West Tamar Highway and Huon Highway, there is still a lot more to be done to help prevent the occurrence of serious and fatal crashes on these roads.
Our calls for funding for a flyover on the East Tamar Highway at Alanvale and at the Mowbray Connector are also yet to be noticed, although we are pleased the Mowbray Connector has at least had some funding committed. Similarly, aside from some allocated funding, upgrades to the intersection of Howden Rd and the Channel Highway, and Sandfly junction with Huon Highway still have no firm plans or timelines.
It is vital that we continue to put pressure on all levels of government to progress with upgrades across the state. They play an important part in ensuring the safety of all road users, as well as having an impact on our lifestyle.