Push to upgrade Sideling as road misses out on federal funding

Sideling lookout
TOURIST ROUTE: The Sideling lookout. Picture: Scott Gelston

Dorset mayor Greg Howard says there is only one matter he’s been bringing up with the major parties pre-election: the Sideling.

Upgrading the road – the section of the Tasman Highway between Scottsdale and Launceston – has long been a priority of the council.

“That is our only request,” he said.

“We are the only agricultural production area in the state that does not have a decent road in and out, and it’s holding the North-East back.

“The Scottsdale Irrigation Scheme is going to come online in 2020, there’s a massive forest resource, and thousands of tourists coming this way, and we’ve got a [terrible] road.

“It is absolutely essential for the development of the North-East that they do that road up, and that’s the number one election promise that we’re seeking.”

Neither major party has made a concrete commitment to the upgrades.

Bass Labor MHR Ross Hart said it was disappointing the Sideling didn’t get a look in at the latest funding round.

The Coalition announced on April 1 that $530 million of federal funds would be spent on “key” Tasmanian freight corridors, but the Sideling was not included in the list.

“It is for the Liberals to explain why the proposed Sideling freight road upgrade has been left out of their budget,” Mr Hart said.

“If elected, Labor will take a responsible approach to investing in roads and other infrastructure, including considering important freight road projects like the proposed Sideling upgrade.”

Liberal candidate for Bass Bridget Archer said she believed there was a “strong economic case” for the Sideling upgrade.

“I look forward to advocating on behalf of the North-East for the projects that will encourage investment and grow the local economy,” she said.

Mayor Greg Howard said council believed $50 million would be necessary to upgrade the Sideling.

He said land values in Dorset were half of what they could be “if we had a decent road”.

A date for the 2019 election is expected to be set soon.

 

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