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Journeys : Feb March 2011
8 February / March 2011 In our community Where to for the Bridgewater Bridge? Now that maintenance on the Bridgewater Bridge is nearly complete, it is time to look at the future for the gateway into Hobart. The Department in charge of roads in Tasmania (DIER) has commissioned a planning study into the crossing, which is expected to be completed by June 2011. A preferred option has been prepared, and this is being discussed with the community before a proposal is prepared for the Australian Government for funding of the works. This option envisages a high level bridge across the Derwent cur ving from Granton, well below the existing causeway, to Bridgewater, and linking into the Br idgewater bypass. The bridge w ill be designed for a higher speed of travel than the existing str ucture. Its foundations below water level w ill be built strongly enough to carr y four lanes, but initially, only two lanes will be constructed. The two lanes will be separated by a divider, probably of the wire fence type. The existing bridge will be kept in service to carry rail, pedestrian, bicycle and local road traffic. Clearance under the new bridge will be the same as under the Bowen Bridge and the lift span of the existing bridge will still have to be raised to allow boats to travel up the Derwent River. Repairs just completed on the existing bridge are expected to give it at least an additional 15 years of service, and ways have been identified to extend this to at least fifty years if needed. The initial two lanes of a new bridge are expected to provide reasonable levels of ser vice to traffic volumes until 2038, although changes in traffic volumes don’t always follow the predictions. DIER hopes to achieve funding for the bridge to allow a start in 2017, for completion in 2020. Roger Locke reports on DIER’s plans for Hobart’s northern gateway Win for RACT lobbying on Bass Highway audible line markings RACT Public Policy Manager Vince Taskunas writes: In the weeks leading up to Christmas, then-Infrastructure Minister Lara Giddings announced a further $3 million worth of infrastructure projects to be funded from Tasmania’s Road Safety Lev y, the $20 lev y applied to the annual registration fees of all motor vehicles. In the announcement, the Minister said that “...funding from the Road Safety Lev y is applied directly to road safety initiatives with the proven ability to reduce fatalities and serious injuries.” It was pleasing to see that a program of upgrading the line markings to ‘tactile’ on the Bass Highway between Launceston and Deloraine will be funded, at a cost of $800,000. While the RACT has argued that the upg rade should extend between Launceston and Latrobe, this promised investment is a welcome first step. Five-year statistical averages in Tasmania (to the end of 2009) show that 46% of fatality crashes and just under 50% of serious injur y crashes are single-vehicle, run-off-road (off-path on curve, or straight) crashes. Audio-tactile profiled (ATP) markings (also called ‘rumble strips’ or ‘ buzz lines’) are used extensively overseas. They are one of the few effective counter-measures for fatigue and can also mitigate a wide range of crash risks like distraction, alcohol or drug-impaired driv ing and poor visibility. The audible edge and centre line markings that have been applied to the Midland Highway during 2008/09 have been welcomed by all road users as a positive step in making the highway safer. New Zealand research shows that benefits exceed costs on all roads treated with ATP markings carrying more than 600 vehicles per day; and benefits are four times the cost for state highways carrying an average of 2200 vehicles per day. Many Tasmanian rural roads – of the type that would be affected by a blanket speed limit reduction to 90 km/h – would fall into these categories. These roads could be made safer using a targeted on-road treatment to counter directly the most prevalent type of crash, as opposed to simply imposing a blanket speed limit reduction on all 100 km/h roads. The July 2007 report by New Zealand road authorities entitled The Cost Effectiveness of Delineation Improvements for Safety demonstrates the strongly positive cost-benefit analysis of ATP line markings. The NZ report is available on the R ACT website (www. ract.com.au, then click on the R ACT Community panel) or a hard copy can be obtained by calling Donna Sward 6236 4308 or email email@example.com . The Road Safety Levy commenced in December 2007 for an initial period of five years to provide an estimated $42.5 million for road safety initiatives. The RACT supported the introduction of the levy at that time, believing that a dedicated funding source was needed to fund key road safety initiatives that may not other wise receive funding from Treasury. As technology-based road safety advances become more prevalent, the cost of adopting innovative and potentially life-sav ing measures will put increasing pressure on the pool of funds currently collected under the lev y. The RACT believes that the Tasmanian Government must maintain the levy at its current level as a bare minimum; it should be maintained at the end of the program (December 2012) and the Government should be open to increasing it for its new period, in order to fund new road safety initiatives. RACT welcomes comments from Journeys readers on this and any other issue – have your say by posting a comment in the RACT Community section of our website.
Apr May 2011