Dorset celebrates after $40m Sideling road upgrade announcement

FUNDING: Greg Howard, Bridget Archer, and state Treasurer Peter Gutwein at the announcement of the $40 million promise. Picture: Scott Gelston

Dorset mayor Greg Howard is celebrating a $40 million election promise from Bass Liberal candidate Bridget Archer, which all but guarantees the Sideling upgrades that have been council’s election priority.

It came after a $25 million promise from sitting Labor member Ross Hart to upgrade the Sideling, the stretch of the Tasman Highway between Launceston and Scottsdale.

Cr Howard also responded to Mr Hart’s comment that Labor’s figure was smaller because they promised the money that council asked of them.

Mr Hart has said Cr Howard, who is the president of the Scottsdale Liberal Party branch, had been “partisan” in his comments about the disparity.

“We sent exactly the same proposal to both parties,” Cr Howard said.

“[Council’s] costings put it at $43 million, plus a contingency, so that gave us a total figure of $50 million. We’d be asking for half federal money, and the other half from the state government.

“So [Labor] offered their fifty-fifty, and then the Liberals came along and trumped it.”

The upgrades are primarily to make the Sideling suitable for B-Double trucks.

Currently, B-Double freight trucks must go via George Town to get to Launceston and the airport. Semi-trailers can travel via Lilydale, but that uses about 60 litres of fuel more to get to Launceston than the Sideling, Cr Howard said.

Mr Howard said an appropriate freight road was the final hurdle between the North-East and its agricultural future, following $200 million in infrastructure investment since 1987 via the Winnaleah Irrigation Scheme, the Ringarooma Irrigation Scheme, and the Scottsdale Irrigation Scheme.

“Once the road is up and running, I would imagine agricultural investment will continue – because we’ve got the climate and the soil, now we’ve got the water, so there’s no reason why you wouldn’t try to increase [agricultural production],” he said.

“They both said they would like to see it get up in the next term, so hopefully by 2022 the road will be built, or well on the way.”

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