The Tasmanian Government has unveiled its first major infrastructure election promise, vowing to save Sorell from becoming a “stranded settlement”.
The Liberals have committed to spending $55 million on six projects to ease congestion between Hobart and Sorell if re-elected next year.
The promise includes $500,000 for a study to investigate duplicating the Tasman Highway, providing a long-term traffic solution for one of the state’s fastest growing regions.
Infrastructure Minister Rene Hidding said duplication works would not begin until 2021, but upgrades in the meantime would ease the pressure.
“We won’t let the South East become a stranded settlement,” he said.
Mr Hidding said, when completed, there would be a “far better experience” for commuters.
“To have traffic jammed in there which doesn’t allow for decent liveability, is unconscionable. We won’t let it happen,” he said.
Sorell Mayor Kerry Vincent welcomed the news.
“This is so significant for our community. For many decades now everyone has been an expert on the subject, but nobody has wanted to address it.
Projects to be constructed in the next term include:
- Hobart Airport interchange
- Widening the Tasman Highway at the Tasmania Golf Club
- Upgrade the Midway Point intersection
- A Southern Sorell bypass
- Overtaking lane on the Arthur Highway at Ironstone Creek Rivulet
- Feasibility and design study for duplication works
The area is in the electorate of Lyons, which is shaping up to be a key battle ground in the state election.
The Liberals currently hold three of the five seats, and Mr Hidding would not be drawn on whether the road upgrade promise was an effort to keep them.
“The Hodgman Liberal Government will submit its entire efforts over the last four years to the people of Tasmania and ask them to consider where we came from,” he said.
Mr Hidding said Labor “did nothing in 16 years for traffic”.
But Labor MLC Josh Willie questioned the Liberals’ record on highway upgrades, and said the Liberals hadn’t completed the promise to deliver a four-lane Midland Highway.
“They are still working on delivering a three-lane highway,” he said.
“If you look into the detail [of the latest announcements], what the Government is promising is a planning study,” Mr Willie said.
“That will be of little comfort for people travelling into Hobart from Sorell and beyond that over the next four years.
“The actual big commitment isn’t there.”