MAJOR construction of the new Bridgewater Bridge is under way, with important pieces of the project’s temporary bridge arriving on site in recent days. The bulk of the cost of $786 million project is coming from the Federal Government ($628.8 million) and the Tasmanian Government is providing the remaining $157.2 million.
The new bridge will form part of the National Highway and will remove the bottlenecks experienced at each end of the existing bridge. New, free-flowing interchanges will also be built at Bridgewater and Granton, improving travel between the Brooker, Lyell and Midland highways.
The first six of 12 barges have arrived at the project site and will be floated into place and settled on the mudflats adjacent to the causeway. The remaining six barges are due to arrive early next month and will then be linked to a temporary steel-framed bridge built from the Bridgewater foreshore across the Derwent, from which the new bridge will be constructed.
This temporary bridge will provide equipment such as large cranes and construction vehicles with access across the river to build the new bridge’s foundations and structure, without interrupting traffic on the existing Bridgewater Bridge.
The State Government says the project will support 250 direct and 800 indirect jobs, with a target of 4% of the workforce to come under the project’s Indigenous Participation Plan. Construction contractor McConnell Dowell has placed an emphasis on skill development and pathway opportunities to introduce new people to the industry.
This includes through the recently completed pre-employment program that saw 50 job-seekers new to the construction industry fast-track their knowledge base and prepare for employment on the project. Some of these participants have already secured work directly on the project, while others will be employed in the project’s purpose-built pre-cast concrete production facility in Bridgewater.
“After all of the years of planning it is great to have moved into the major construction stage of the project, it means we’ll soon see the new bridge rise before our eyes,” Premier Jeremy Rockliff said when visiting the site this morning. “Having been out to the site many times over the years, all of the activity happening right now is really exciting for not only locals but anyone that travels the north-south route up the middle of the state. We’re not on the home stretch as yet but we’re certainly rounding the bend with the finish line coming into view.”
The premier was accompanied by several other politicians including the federal assistant minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Senator Carol Brown. “Seeing the first six of 12 barges arrive on the new bridge site is an incredible physical expression of the transformational work continuing to unfold here in Bridgewater,” Senator Brown said. “Our governments will continue to work together to bring this project – the largest ever investment in a single transport infrastructure project in Tasmania’s history – to life.”
The federal Member for Lyons, Brian Mitchell, was also among the site visitors. “This new bridge will connect local communities, create more open space and ensure people travel between the north and south of the state safer and more efficiently,” he said.
More information about the project is available at bridgewaterbridge.tas.gov.au.