Vision for highway

TASMANIA’S motoring body has thrown its political weight behind a multi-million dollar upgrade to the Tasman Highway demanding it be undertaken over the next 10 years.

Connecting the East Coast to the north and south of the state, it is possibly Tasmania’s most popular tourism route, also known as the Great Eastern Drive.

It is also crucial to the agriculture, viticulture, manufacturing and aquaculture sectors.

Its importance was highlighted last year when the East Coast was cut off for weeks when rocks fell and blocked the highway at Paradise Gorge near Orford.

The RACT has prioritised the Tasman Highway upgrade as it ramps up lobbying in the lead up to the Federal election due by May.

“What we now want to see is a long-term plan for the Tasman Highway,” RACT chief advocacy officer Garry Bailey said.

He said the success of the upgrading of the Midland Highway highlighted what could be achieved with firm 10-year plans for Tasmania’s major transport routes.

“The RACT has campaigned vigorously for these plans, with the Bass Highway now subject to the same approach,’’ Mr Bailey said.
“There is no better time to make the case for a properly funded Federal-State plan than now with a federal election coming up fast.
“The Tasman Highway is vital to the viability of East Coast tourism, which has been so hard-hit by the pandemic.

“Tourism is the region’s biggest industry and there is also significant growth in agriculture and aquaculture.
“Every business, every resident, and every visitor needs a safe, efficient highway. “The RACT welcomes the important safety improvements to the Tasman Highway at key tourism turn-off points and the decisions to lower speed limits in some sections.

“That commitment to safety now needs to be the foundation for a whole-of-corridor vision.
“A firm 10-year Tasman Highway plan will give local businesses, councils and the civil construction sector certainty to plan and invest over the longer term and to drive growth. “The electors of Lyons, in particular, have a huge stake in having the Tasman Highway made safer and more efficient.”

Mr Bailey said the Midland Highway project was a model for what could be achieved.

“It is already much safer and the construction that will begin on two more sections in coming weeks will add to safety and efficiency.’’

Meanwhile the State Government is seeking public input of the proposed alignment for the duplication of the Midway Point and Sorell causeways.

The Midway Point causeway upgrade includes the duplication of the causeway and a new bridge north of McGee’s Bridge and the existing Sorell causeway would be widened to four traffic lanes.

Concept plans can be viewed at http://www.transport.tas.gov.au/ causeways and public feedback is open until March 18.

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