The RACT has welcomed the announcement by the Federal Government that it will provide funding to replace the ageing Bridgewater Bridge and provide funding for road safety improvements to the Bass Highway as part of this budget cycle.

RACT executive general manager Membership & Community Stacey Pennicott said the RACT believed there was a need for a 10-year plan for the Bass Highway to improve it to a minimum Ausrap 3 star rating.

“By any measure $400 million for safety improvements on the highway is a significant spend and should deliver the type of safety improvements we have been calling for,” she said.

Replacing the Bridgewater Bridge has been a funding priority for the RACT for a number of years.

Mrs Pennicott said in April this year the RACT had again called for the bridge to be replaced.

“Today’s bridge funding announcement is a positive and welcome one, and is on top of a commitment by the Tasmanian Government to allocate 20 per cent of the total cost of the Bridgewater Bridge project over five years,” she said.

Mrs Pennicott said the Bridgewater Bridge was a critical piece of infrastructure that supported freight transportation and improved travel times between Hobart and Launceston.

“Ignoring the need to replace the bridge and doing nothing in the short to medium-term has the potential for it to be the major point of failure in the Hobart to Launceston road network,” she said.

“Replacing the Bridgewater Bridge is even more critical when you consider the significant work that has been done on, or is planned for, the Midland Highway.”

The RACT has estimated that $600 million will be required to replace existing infrastructure and improve traffic flow and connection from the Midland Highway to the Brooker Highway.

Mrs Pennicott said the RACT had lobbied for a replacement Bridgewater Bridge and for Bass Highway road safety funding for many years.

“It is very pleasing that this work has paid off and will deliver for Tasmanians in this budget cycle,” she said.