Trouble is brewing on the gentle waters at the Northern end of Hobart’s beautiful Derwent River estuary.

The Tasmanian Labor Government has been saying for years that the huge,
ancient, steel-constructed Bridgewater Bridge is about to fall apart
and needs urgent replacement.

The state government has insisted that the project had desperately
needed federal funds – so local Liberal heavies like Eric Abetz got
$100 million committed to a new bridge two Budgets ago, under the
Auslink project.

Yet the Bridgewater Bridge has not been replaced – and the Tasmanian government has discovered other priorities as a state election looms.

State Liberal Brett Whiteley says the Government has had a report for
some time now that demonstrates the bridge could be good for up to 90
years. Yet Canberra has handed over $100 million – $100 million Tassie
Labor wants to use for pork elsewhere.

Recently a popular local mayor, Tony Foster, hinted he might run for
Labor in Lyons at the next State election. The bridge is the gateway to
the southern end of the seat, and Labor is in a bit of bother in Lyons.

Foster wants a big road project in his municipality to go ahead instead
of the bridge – a significant re-routing of tangled traffic at the
southern end of Tassie’s Midland Highway between Launceston and Hobart.
Foster is a travel agent, and knows how valuable the completion of the
“Brighton Bypass” would be to local tourism – as well as freight

The bypass has also been on the planning board for decades and has big
local support, but successive governments have either been too broke or
politically unwilling to tackle it – until now. Now it seems to have
become the Tasmanian Government’s priority road project in the south of
the state.

A state election is due next year, and Lyons is precarious territory
for the ALP. Under the Hare-Clarke system, the electorate has three
Labor MPs, Liberal leader Rene Hidding and a Green, Tim Morris.

Morris is seen as the weakest link. Labor is desperate to avoid a hung
parliament. Could a local mayor and a big, pricey local infrastructure
project remove one pesky crossbencher? “Like a bridge over troubled
water, I will ease your mind?” Or like a bypass?