Councils take another look at Jefferys Track

THE Lachlan route to the Huon Valley will be investigated for its potential to bring business, leisure and social benefits at both ends of the road. Regarded as the “missing link” between the Derwent and Huon Valleys, Jefferys Track has been the subject of investigation for more than a century.

The Huon Valley Council last week announced that Deloitte Access Economics had been engaged to conduct public consultation and provide a cost-benefit analysis of options for upgrading Jefferys Track. “Engineers GHD have also been engaged to identify and provide cost estimates of options for possible routes and road types,” the council said in a statement.

“The Tasmanian Government has funded a feasibility study for the upgrade of Jefferys Track, which runs from Crabtree in the Huon Valley area to Lachlan in the Derwent Valley. The feasibility study will be led by the Huon Valley Council in collaboration with the Derwent Valley Council.

“A transport link between the Huon and Derwent Valleys has potential to bring significant business, leisure and social benefits for our communities. In addition, the current state of Jefferys Track is problematic as it is impassable in places. A decision needs to be made on whether to maintain or upgrade the route, and whether it is a viable option to link the Valleys.”

Community and industry consultation will take place in the second half of this year with the aim of:

  • Communicating and seeking feedback on the possibility of developing Jefferys Track
  • Understanding community and industry opinions, concerns and ideas related to the possibility of development of the track
  • Ascertaining potential traffic flows
  • Identifying the costs and benefits of the potential development

The planned forms of consultation include a series of interviews, workshops, public meetings, and an online survey. To be involved, contact Deloitte Access Economics on 9667 5040 or email jefferystrackconsult@deloitte.com.au to register your interest.

Acting Huon Valley mayor Sally Doyle said councillors would consider the results of the consultation together with all aspects of the potential upgrade which will be covered in the feasibility study, such as construction costs and routes, and impacts on adjoining landowners.

“At this stage, no decisions have been made about the future of Jefferys Track,” Cr Doyle said. “If the feasibility assessment is positive and both councils agree to proceed with the upgrade, the next steps will involve more community consultation and the completion of a detailed route analysis and environmental studies.”

In his 1984 Master of Transport Economics thesis, Bob Cotgrove noted that the distance between the Lyell Hwy at New Norfolk (Hobart Rd/Glebe Rd junction) and the Huon Hwy at Grove, was about 29km when travelled via Jefferys Track, compared with 70km via Hobart.

Mr Cotrove described Jeffreys Track as the shortest and most feasible of four potential connections between the Derwent and Huon Valleys. The others were a fire trail providing “a rugged 12km connection” between Collins Cap and Mountain River; a trail connecting Glenfern and Judbury; and a link between Maydena and Lonnavale through the Snowy Range. Since that time, the Glenfern/Judbury route has been developed as the Plenty Link Rd, an unsealed log truck route, but a study in 2014 found it was not feasible to upgrade it for tourist traffic.

In his thesis, Mr Cotgrove costed the Jefferys Track project at $6 million in 1984, with about half of that needed to build the 7km “missing link” section, an area he described as “formidable” from a road construction point of view. Read Bob Cotgrove’s full thesis here.

9 Comments

  1. I have driven on the Plenty Link Road several times over the past few years to visit friends in the Huon where my late partner and I lived from 1989 to 1999. I found this road a pleasant, scenic and safe road to drive on. In stark contrast to Jeffreys Track which we drove on from Lachlan to Crabtree in Dec 1999. It took longer for us to get back to Huonville than if we’d driven back through Hobart. Yet all the focus seems to be on Jeffreys Track despite the recognized challenging terrain. We are told that “a study in 2014 found it was not feasible to upgrade it (the Plenty Link Road) for tourist traffic.” But we aren’t given any details as to why it’s not feasible to upgrade the Plenty Link Rd. Makes me suspect the real reason is political and nothing to do with the engineering aspects. If I’m wrong then residents, taxpayers, tourist operators etc are entitled to the specifics as to why upgrading the Plenty Link Road isn’t feasible.

  2. Very interesting. I love plenty Valley Rd easily passable in most cars these days and its a beautiful drive, however I agree with the last study its not really feasible.

    1. It’s very convenient to say somethings not feasible without giving any reasons. I’ll stick with my original assertion that the real reason is political. In my past employment I saw reports where the final recommendation wasn’t based on facts but on political expediency. In one case I know the actual expert’s recommendation was changed to facilitate an economic outcome.

  3. Nice idea but pie in the sky. The whole of the Lachlan Rd from the Glebe Rd would have to be extensively upgraded, new bridges etc. There is no way you can widen the front part of the track, the council has allowed subdivisions with no thought whatsoever to infrastructure. Why waste any more money? $20 million may help but I cannot see it happening.

    1. That’s why the pine forests are still intact out Jeffries, too expensive to upgrade the roads and bridges, save the $$$ and do the link road. Studies say it’s not feasible but get forestry to butt out and it will be fine

    1. Kip, I’ve now had a chance to read that 2015 report by Jacobs Australia which was commissioned by Derwent Valley Council. I agree the report is comprehensive. Jacobs Australia estimated that the cost of a full upgrade of the Plenty Link Road was 48 million dollars which from their cost benefit analysis of likely usage could not be justified. They also emphasized that it is a forestry road and is vital for the supply of timber to the Boyer Mill etc. Use of the road by log trucks especially during harvesting time would increase and raise safety issues for other road users which can’t be ignored. The consultants report cost Derwent Valley Council $100,000. I cannot comprehend why the Jefferys Track proposal has once again been raised. Agree totally with Peter Williams comment on July 28 – it’s “pie in the sky” and another report is total waste of taxpayers money.

  4. Very interesting good news story about the ‘Study of long-awaited valley link’. Derwent Valley Gazette Wed. Aug. 5, 2020, The earlier generations of Tasmanian’s and even up to now have believed in the link. A quick study of the talking & money already invested bares testimony to a “long-awaited”political will to get on with the job. Modern-day example a good hands-on experience project for our truly very well educated Army Engineers.

    In March 2015 the Derwent Valley Council invested rate payer’s money into the “Southern Explorer Feasibility Study” report. I’m mentioning this because a Lyon’s MP ” any improved road link may provide for locals and to attract more tourists.” Of course more human beings means more local produce.

    During the report about the Explorer, that author’s reported that in section 3. Identification of Issues and Opportunities stakeholder consultation. Out of the seven groups included in the consultation workshops…. I’m quoting this from the only group….. Agriculture that mentioned “the group like to see an upgrade to Jeffrey Track considered Jeffrey Track is a shorter route and it was felt this would provide a better route to the Bridge-water Bridge.

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