A decade-long plan to upgrade Tasmania’s 176-kilometre long inter-city Midland Highway is moving closer to completion, with works starting in the coming weeks on safety upgrades for the final three sections of the highway.
The 10 Year Action Plan for safety upgrades along the key Tasmanian north-south freight route started in 2014, with a funding commitment of $565 million from the Australian and Tasmanian governments on an 80:20 basis.
The objective of the investment was to deliver a minimum 3-star rating for the highway’s entire length. The Australian Road Assessment Program (AusRAP) is part of the International Road Assessment Program (iRAP) that uses star ratings to measure the safety of a road’s infrastructure.
The AusRAP Star Rating Australia’s National Network of Highways 2013 report found that the majority of the Midland Highway rated either only 1 or 2-star, in its 5-star safety rating scale.
So far, 70 per cent of the 10 Year Action Plan safety improvements have been completed.
The latest construction activities on the project will initially be focused on a 10-kilometre section of the highway near Oatlands, with preliminary works also to start on a seven-kilometre section near Ross.
The works are being carried out under a new $37 million contract awarded to Launceston-based engineering company Shaw Contracting.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Barnaby Joyce, said the Action Plan was creating a safer driving environment for all road users.
“The safety improvements will reduce the risk of head-on and loss-of-control crashes and achieve a minimum 3 star AusRAP safety rating for the Midland Highway,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.
“The Oatlands section extends from Jericho to south of York Plains and the Ross works will take place between Mona Vale Road and Campbell Town.”
Tasmanian Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Michael Ferguson, said the works at both sites include road widening, extending sealed shoulders, and providing additional overtaking lanes.
“Safety barriers will also be installed along the centre of the highway at both sites, as has been achieved progressively along the highway. Flexible safety barriers reduce fatalities and serious injury by absorbing the force of a crash, slowing and diverting excessive force away from people inside vehicles,” Minister Ferguson said.
“With 250 repairs to the central barrier, avoiding that number of run-off-road and head-on crashes suggests that our investment has already saved lives.”
Work at both sites is scheduled for completion in mid-2024, weather permitting.
Approvals for the final section, north of Campbell Town, are currently being progressed, with works planned on this section later in 2022.