Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Latest election promise hits a roadblock

Part of the Plenty Valley Link Rd near New Norfolk.
THE Labor Party's federal election promise to upgrade the Plenty Link Rd between the Derwent and Huon valleys could result in the route being closed to the public, Derwent Valley mayor Ben Shaw said today. Commenting on Facebook after the announcement of the $20 million commitment, Cr Shaw said this was $10 million short.

"While I would normally welcome any funding announcements for our region and especially our roads, this one is a poor choice and actually creates a bigger burden on our own road networks and negatively affects our residents and tourism visitors," he said.

"Plenty Link Rd has been on council wish list for some time now, it needs $30m for upgrades to be carried out so we can make it suitable for a tourism loop between us and the Huon. The shortfall in funding here means the Plenty Link Rd will be forestry and industry trucks only and possibly locked to the public."

The election commitment was announced in the midlands town of Ross this morning by the ALP's spokesman on infrastructure, transport, cities and regional development, Anthony Albanese MHR. "A Shorten Labor Government will invest $1.3 billion in a comprehensive Tasmanian Roads Package to improve safety for motorists and drive economic development in the state’s agricultural and tourism sectors," Mr Albanese said.

"Labor will invest in roads in all corners of the state, from replacing Hobart’s Bridgewater Bridge to major safety upgrades of the Bass, West Tamar, Frankford and Murchison Highways in the north and north-west, as well as projects that will reduce traffic congestion and expedite the movement of freight," Mr Albanese said.

In his Facebook post, Cr Shaw said the intent of the Plenty Link Rd upgrade was to reduce the number of trucks travelling though Hobart. "That’s a good move, however this means increasing heavy vehicle movements on Glenora Rd and Gordon River Rd, which are already in a disgraceful state, unsafe for our rate payers and visitors."

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Cr Shaw said this shifting of traffic from city streets to Glenora Rd via the Plenty Link Rd was a bigger problem than the funding shortfall. "The Derwent Valley Council own Glenora Rd and will never have the capacity to fix it to a reasonable standard as it is, and now Labor want to poor more heavy-laden vehicles on it without any thinking as to what this does to our asset

"I’ve been asking all levels of government for help, or to take over Glenora Rd, for some time now but falling on deaf ears... now this poorly thought out idea is on the table. Maybe Labor could come up with the $20m to complete the Glenora Rd upgrades."

The mayor's comments were endorsed by Cr Rachel Power, who said she wholeheartedly agreed with his assessment. "It only fixes issues for one region, while creating more for another - us," Cr Power said. "While I welcome all funding for the Valley, I feel this one is a little short. I do believe other grants announced may be able to be accessed through Labor's announcements, but being national they will be competitive. It is a start, but more focus on the Derwent Valley roads are required first," she said on her councillor Facebook page.

Speaking on ABC Radio this morning, Mr Albanese said the Labor party, if elected to government, would expect the State Government to contribute to the projects it had announced in its Tasmanian Roads Package.

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