TAS BUDGET 08/09: State to spend big on transport infrastructure

By: Jason Whittaker

Almost $627 million will be invested in Tasmania’s road network as part of a multi-billion dollar Budget handed down by

Almost $627 million will be invested in Tasmania’s road network as part of a multi-billion dollar Budget handed down by Treasurer Michael Aird.

The $626.8 million to be spent over four years represents a record infrastructure investment program which includes a transport hub at Brighton and bypasses at Kingston, Brighton and Pontville.

The Government, which will receive $156 million towards road projects from the Federal Government, will also pump $42.5 million in north east freight roads, $11.8 million in the

Bridgewater Bridge refurbishment and$9.3 million in the Brooker Highway.

The State Government will also carry out a number of road sealing projects as well as build an intermodal terminal at Bell Bay.

Tasmania’s rail network will also receive a boost with the Government investing $76.6 million in improving the system.

In handing down the Budget, Aird announced the Government’s multi-million dollar investments show it is serious about "putting ideas into action for today and tomorrow".

According to Aird, the Budget builds on the Government’s strong financial management established over the past 10 years.

Minister for Infrastructure Graeme Sturges says the road projects will increase safety and underpin the State’s growing economy, which Aird says is the fastest growing in Australia.

Sturges says he is also consulting with the Federal Government over its infrastructure promises made last year.

"We are currently negotiating with the Australian Government to determine the funding profile for the remainder of its 2007 election commitments Tasmanian roads," he says.

The Tasmanian Greens, however, criticised the Government's road infrastructure investment, arguing more money should have been invested in public transport.

"Rising fuel costs are going to significantly raise demand for public transport, yet the Treasurer seems to think that just building more roads is a coherent policy response," Greens spokesman on climate change Nick McKim Mr McKim says.

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