Infrastructure and Transport – Tasman Bridge Replacement
Dr. WOODRUFF- I’m not entirely sure if you’ve answered this question yet, so please let me know if you have. This is the Tasman Bridge replacement investment. Have you been asked questions about this?
Mr FERGUSON – I do not have.
Dr. WOODRUFF- I note the substantial commitment to the replacement process, but I understand that this pool of funds was provided by the federal Liberal government, so I wonder if you have had conversations with the new Minister of Labor to ensure that this pool of funding will always be available.
Mr FERGUSON – I reached out to the new Federal Infrastructure Minister, Catherine King, and conveyed my congratulations and that I look forward to working with her. I have no concerns about this funding. Both governments have been very clear in their commitment to this project, and I have no reason to think that the federal Labor government would do anything but honor this project. I don’t know if we can discuss the level of agreement we reached with them for a PPR. Has the PPR been signed?
Mrs. McINTYRE – Not yet, but funding was committed prior to this current budget.
Mr FERGUSON – It was. I believe we put the full amount of $130 million in last year’s budget, so I have no concerns about the funding profile going forward. This is a very important project for me, for our government and for the state.
Just to pick up on your use of the word “replacement”, we will not replace, but we will strengthen the bridge. This is the first priority of this project. You might like to ask about how it’s going, but the first priority is to reinforce it. We can’t add the extra lanes and sheer weight and strain on the bridge without first doing a reinforcement project. To allow the bridge to bear the additional weight of the three meter lanes on each side plus the protective wall which will prevent any accidents from occurring, we must first carry out the reinforcement works, which has the secondary effect of extending the lifetime of the bridge I’m thinking 2070 if I’m not mistaken. If there are any other questions, I’m happy to have them.
Dr. WOODRUFF- This brings me to my next question. There is a view in the community that I have been told that the bridge is past its expiration date, so it would be nice if you could make a clear statement about that. I want to emphasize that this is a point of view that I represent and that people have expressed to me concerns about the bridge. Obviously, people with a history of what happened to the bridge are concerned to understand that the government has a replacement plan. Can you please explain to us exactly what the lifespan of the bridge is, what is the replacement plan, possible future cost, how could this happen and what are we doing to follow this path ?
Mr FERGUSON – It’s a good question. I can reassure you and your constituents on the advice we received from our consultants, GHD, who carried out this work of assessing the strength and lifespan of the bridge as it currently stands. The advice we have received is that, subject to the completion of this project which will take several years, the bridge is fit for service and its life can be extended. I was only working on my memory when I said the project would extend the life of the bridge to 2070. I’m going to triple check that with my folks around the table and if we have to bring that back we can TO DO . But there are no plans to replace the bridge because we don’t need it. The bridge is fit for purpose. And with its reinforcement project, which will allow us to build on these three meter wide lanes on each side, the bridge is suitable for a long time into the future. Denise, could you add something and advise if we need to check the date please?
Mrs. McINTYRE – In terms of determining bridge life, there are a number of factors that determine whether a bridge is fit for purpose. One can be capacity in terms of the weight she can carry. You can undertake reinforcement work to extend the life in terms of carrying capacity, depending on the traffic for which the reinforcement is designed.
Capacity is also related to the number of vehicles it can carry. Obviously there is a lot of work being done on the congestion around Hobart and on extending and expanding passenger transport or high volume movement of people as alternatives to people getting into their cars. The trails are intended to provide an active transportation alternative to cross the river as well.
Our consultants have no concerns and we have no concerns that we need to plan for the replacement of the Tasman Bridge in the near future.
Dr. WOODRUFF- Has GHD given a date? And when was their report made?
Basically what you are telling Tasmanians is that the bridge has been certified, once the reinforcement work has been completed, as structurally integral for a lifespan of up to 2070. Is that what you’re saying?
Mr FERGUSON – That is what I am saying. Also, since Ms. McIntyre was unable to confirm this to me at the table, we will double check the date as I know it was in the report.
Mrs. McINTYRE – Giving an actual date is kind of like, we can’t really certify it, it depends a lot on –
Dr. WOODRUFF- I accept what you just said. I understand.
Mrs. McINTYRE – But it still has a long lifespan. It is halfway through its lifespan. We will undertake work as required to ensure it is fit for the future.
Dr. WOODRUFF- And these reinforcement works, when will they be finished?
Mr FERGUSON – It will be 2025-26. And the aisles. The whole project.
But I would like to make sure that I give the correct information to the committee, by working on my memory. I will come back to the committee if there is any clarification needed as to its expected economic life after reinforcement.