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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Mercury: Libs' $35m bypass vow [05jan06]

Libs' $35m bypass vow [05jan06]

THE State Opposition yesterday pledged to build a $35 million bypass for Kingston.

The Liberals committed to making the bypass a priority project should they win the state election this year.

Leader Rene Hidding yesterday attacked the Government's stance on a bypass, saying that if elected his government would provide up to $35 million over five years for the project.

"This is a project that the Lennon Labor Government have refused to provide any commitment to, despite the community telling them for many years that the traffic problems in and around Kingston were significant and growing day by day," Mr Hidding said.

But Infrastructure, Energy and Resources Minister Bryan Green cautioned against setting too much store on the latest Liberal spending promise.

Mr Green did not deny the traffic management needs south of Hobart.

Mr Hidding said the Channel Highway and intersecting roads had been subject to increasing vehicle movements over recent years with traffic gridlock predicted in coming years should a bypass not be built.

"The Kingston bypass has been identified as a necessary transport infrastructure project for a number of years with the traffic and road safety problems getting worse by the day," he said.

The State Government also was criticised by Kingborough councillor Roger McGinniss for sitting on the project.

Cr McGinniss said the bypass, recommended in November by the government's own Kingston and Environs Transport Study, should have been implemented right away.

Mr Green said the study provided a strategic base on which to consider priorities for Kingston.

Cr McGinniss, who has pushed for the road for years, said more than 18,000 vehicles travelled through the roundabout intersection of Summerleas Rd and the Channel Highway each day.

"Motorists are caught in bottleneck traffic all day, it's not just peak hour," he said.

About 300 accidents have been recorded on roads in and around Kingston over the past five years, one-third of them occurring on the Channel Highway, costing the community $3 million.

The bypass would remove traffic from the busy Channel Highway through Kingston and ease congestion on Summerleas Rd, Algona Rd and other minor roads.

Most of the land earmarked for the bypass -- which has been available since 1983 -- is owned by the State Government.

The Kingston bypass proposal adds to the Liberals' new investment in Tasmania's road network including major upgrades of the West Tamar and Lyell highways, creation of a statewide road black-spot program, a $20 million investment in Eastern Shore roads in Hobart, a major study of Launceston transport infrastructure needs and diverting all speed camera revenue into road safety initiatives.

Mr Green said the $35 million for a Kingston bypass would push the Liberals' promised roadworks funding even higher.


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