Mayor pens open letter on bridge issue

Today’s front page of the Mercury newspaper,
reporting that three mayors were questioning
whether a new Bridgewater Bridge was value
for money.

IN response to an article in the Mercury today, Derwent Valley mayor Ben Shaw has written an open letter urging the State Government to hold to its promises on the proposed replacement for the Bridgewater Bridge.

“It is extremely disappointing that mayors Reynolds, Johnston and Winter see it as a reasonable option to suggest repurposing funding that has been promised for years. Funding that will directly improve the lives of thousands within the Derwent Valley and Brighton communities, and to rechannel it to other projects in the Greater Hobart area,” Cr Shaw said in his letter, authorised for release today by Derwent Valley Council acting general manager Margaret Johns. The following has been lightly edited for clarity.

“The promised funding for the new Bridgewater Bridge is paramount to supporting the ongoing growth of the areas the bridge feeds into; Derwent Valley, Brighton, and the subsequent flow on effect through the Southern Midlands and Central Highlands.

“Economically, this bridge is a thoroughfare for freight, and as volumes increase to support ongoing industry growth, the current bridge is already failing to meet traffic demands. Every day bottlenecks at either end of the bridge, and long lines of traffic, show how urgently the bridge is in need of expansion.

“When the lift mechanism of the bridge went out of action a decade ago, it severely restricted public access to the river. Historically, there were steamboat races and sailing regattas that would sail up the Derwent and visit New Norfolk and the Upper Derwent Valley. In the bridge’s current state, those activities are no more.

“Using the funding promised would allow a new bridge design that would enable the river highway to be re-opened, and provide another form of transport for residents and tourists to utilise. It would allow for a dual carriageway that is needed to handle the increasing traffic demands on this important piece of infrastructure that serves hundreds of thousands of residents and tourists every year.

“When they signed the Hobart City Deal, the Greater Hobart mayors knew this funding was included and allocated for the Bridgewater Bridge upgrade. Attempting to take this funding sends a very clear message – that the communities of Derwent Valley, Brighton and our northern neighbours of Central Highlands and Southern Midlands are not as important as those in the Greater Hobart council areas.

“On behalf of the communities impacted, I call on the State Government not to bend to these demands, to do the right thing by the communities impacted, and fund the new Bridgewater Bridge as promised, as soon as possible. I feel that if this is not funded soon, after many years’ promises, it will never be.”

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