"Four years until Bass Highway upgrades" - The Examiner

UPGRADES to the Bass Highway between Deloraine and Devonport will not start until late 2023 and are not expected to be complete until late 2025, according to the federal Infrastructure Department.

In response to questions on notice asked by Tasmanian Labor senator Helen Polley, it was revealed the contracts for the upgrades between Deloraine and Devonport would not be awarded until mid-2023, and not completed until late 2025.

RACT, Tasmania's peak motoring body, had previously urged the government to "act quickly" to bring the highway up to an acceptable standard, including barriers or separation between oncoming lanes of traffic.

Lyons Labor MHR Brian Mitchell said the government was not quick enough to get critical infrastructure work started.

"Many more stretches along there should be either overtaking lanes or dual lanes," he said.

"We have seen how dangerous [the Bass Highway] can be."

All four fatal crashes and nine out of 12 serious collisions on the Bass Highway between Launceston and Devonport since mid-2019 had occurred on non-separated sections of the road.

In response to the questions on notice it was stated that if the government could indicate capacity to deliver road projects earlier, the funding for the works could be brought forward.

The government's corridor study between Launceston and Devonport - to identify potential improvements -was opened for community consultation earlier this month.

Infrastructure and Transport Minister Michael Ferguson said the final strategy and implementation plan were expected to be released in late 2021 with the first projects to start in 2022.

"There are a number of different projects along the Highway from Launceston to Marrawah that are all in various stages," he said.

"We are seeking to identify priorities on the Bass Highway between the two existing dual carriageway sections (two lanes in each direction) at Hadspen on the outskirts of greater Launceston, and Devonport.

Safety upgrades between Deloraine and Latrobe will be a key priority.

"Labor have so far been totally disinterested and uncommitted to these plans so this new interest and hopefully support is welcome."

Braddon Liberal MHR Gavin Pearce said he was pleased to see the upgrades progressing to the next step.