Labor has accused the state government of dragging its feet on planned upgrades to the Charles Street Bridge, a part of the city that’s long been a source of frustration for Launceston commuters.
But Infrastructure Minister Michael Ferguson says the Opposition is “misrepresenting the facts”.
During the 2018 state election campaign, the Liberals committed to beginning work on increasing the capacity of the bridge in the 2018-19 financial year.
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However, according to the government’s 2019 Infrastructure Project Pipeline, this work was later pushed back to allow for the Launceston and Tamar Valley Traffic Vision to be further developed and for business cases to be fleshed out.
Speaking in Launceston on Thursday, Opposition Leader Rebecca White lamented the fact that the expansion of the Charles Street Bridge was still yet to commence.
“The government needs to detail why there’s been a delay but, most importantly, get on with the job of fixing the Charles Street Bridge, which is causing major headaches for commuters in Launceston,” Ms White said.
“Further developments have been proposed for this part of Launceston, which is going to cause even more traffic to be put on Charles Street Bridge.
“These economic developments are critical for our state, particularly now when so many people are out of work.”
Mr Ferguson said Labor was off the mark with its criticism.
“The Charles Street Bridge project is part of our bigger $40 million, five-year [traffic plan] that started in 2018,” Mr Ferguson said. “It is well underway and is dramatically improving the safety and flow of traffic in Launceston.”
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He listed the projects that were already underway as part of the government’s broader traffic plan for the Invermay area, including upgrades to the Goderich Street-Gleadow Street and Goderich Street-Forster Street intersections, new traffic signals allowing for right turns at Goderich Street-Gleadow Street and the addition of both a second northbound right turn lane and a second eastbound traffic lane at Goderich Street-Forster Street.
It’s expected the Invermay network upgrade and the Charles Street Bridge expansion will be completed by the 2022-23 financial year.
Launceston Chamber of Commerce chief executive David Peach said the intersection at Lower Charles and Lindsay streets was a “nightmare” and that he would like to see the bottleneck addressed.
“I’d love to see [the government] get stuck in and do that, notwithstanding that there’s a lot of geography issues around there,” he said. “It’s tight access from both sides. I don’t imagine it’s a simple construction.”
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