Minister slams local councils stance on a proposed road upgrade

In Community, Featured Home Page News, Government, Harmonisation, Tasmania

The Glamorgan Spring Bay Council (GSBC) has delt the plan to upgrade and seal a key road connecting Hobart and the East Coast, the council said it would only support the project if the state government took on ownership of the asset.

The Tasman Hwy closed for weeks last year for removing hazardous rocks overhanging the road at Paradise Gorge, This prompted the government to consider sealing the gravel road to make it a safer and easier drive for motorists in the long-term.

GSBC general manager Greg Ingham said “There’s a significant amount of work that needs to go into making that road safer and trafficable as a sealed road,”

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from the mercury 

A plan to upgrade and seal a key road connecting Hobart and the East Coast has been dealt a blow after a local council said it would only support the project if the state government took on ownership of the asset.

About 28 km long, Wielangta Rd links Orford in the Glamorgan Spring Bay municipality with Bream Creek in the state’s southeast.

When the Tasman Hwy closed for weeks last year so that rocks overhanging the road at Paradise Gorge could be removed, East Coast residents turned to Wielangta Rd as an alternative route to the capital.

This prompted the government to consider sealing the gravel road to make it a safer and easier drive for motorists in the long-term. It has spent $1m engaging a consultant to work with the various owners of the road to determine the feasibility and cost of upgrading it.

On Tuesday night, however, the Glamorgan Spring Bay Council (GSBC) unanimously backed a motion urging the council to support the project only if the government agreed to take ownership of the GSBC’s section of the road.

While GSBC general manager Greg Ingham acknowledged there were “a lot of positives around a sealed road”, he said the situation was complex.

“There’s a significant amount of work that needs to go into making that road safer and trafficable as a sealed road,” he said.

The cash-strapped council is concerned that the value of the upgraded road would increase the annual depreciation of the road asset category in its budget by about 15 per cent, or as high as $200,000 a year.

But Mr Ferguson said the State Growth Department had no plans to take on ownership of Wielangta Rd and that GSBC’s stance on the project was “disappointing” and had created a “setback”.

Michael Ferguson.

Michael Ferguson.

“I would have thought that residents and businesses of the Glamorgan Spring Bay council area would be the main winners of a sealed Wielangta Rd,” he said.

“It is my hope and expectation that the various owners will continue to work with the department to proactively find a way forward.”

About 24 km of Wielangta Rd is within the Glamorgan Spring Bay municipality, while 4 km is in the Sorell municipality.

East Coast Tourism Tasmania chief executive Rhonda Taylor said with visitation to the region growing, sealing Wielangta Rd would “strengthen the attraction” of the place and make it “one of the world’s great drive journeys”.

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