A bridge long considered a barrier to B-double movements is set for a $120 million overhaul to facilitate economic prosperity in Tasmania’s North-East region.
The section of the Tasman Highway known as The Sideling between Launceston and Scottsdale, just south of the St Patricks River Bridge, is well known to many Tasmanians for its challenging bends and spectacular topography.
The Dorset Council has long considered the Sideling to be a barrier to the economic prosperity of the North-East region.
The funding commitment is for upgrading this section of the Tasman Highway to B-Double standard, predominately involving straightening of the existing alignment, an addition of passing lanes and widening of the road.
Stage 1 involves upgrading a 15-kilometre section of the Tasman Highway between Minstone Road and the Sideling lookout and has been divided into two sections.
Evaluation of tenders for the first section, from the Sideling lookout to Whish-Wilson Road, is currently being finalised.
Works on this section will include road widening, pavement improvements, the provision of stopping bays, drainage works and safety improvements, allowing it to accommodate B-Double trucks.
The first section is expected to be completed in 2023.
In addition to the $120 million commitment for the upgrading of the Tasman Highway, both State and Federal Governments have announced a further $80 million to upgrade the Illawarra Main Road, a key link in the Tasmanian State road network and provides access to the freight hubs between Hobart and the northern and north western regions of Tasmania.
The Illawarra Main Road is considered a time-saving link as it eliminates the need to travel via Launceston when traveling between the south and the northern ports.
The key objective of the Illawarra Main Road upgrade, from the Perth Link to the Bass Highway, is to improve the road to a Category 1 standard and achieve a three-star AusRap safety rating.
Many other sectors are expected to benefit from the project that will provide better connections between agricultural regions and ports, airports and other transport hubs, and better access to tourism, mining and other industries.
Illawarra Main Road is a Category 1 road in the State road network hierarchy and became part of the National Highway network in 2015.
Funding for roads and bridges in the 2022-23 Budget and forward estimates will increase to $2.7 billion, up from $2 billion last year.
“This huge funding boost includes the largest transport infrastructure project in Tasmanian history – the $786 million new Bridgewater Bridge – co-funded by the Tasmanian and Australian Governments,” said Tasmania Deputy Premier Michael Ferguson, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.