You can see from the map above that the Department of State Growth is proposing an upgrade to the Tasman Highway starting just north of the Basin Creek Bridge and ending south of St. Helens Point Road. ‘The proposal is for road widening and road realignment on the Tasman Highway between Basin Creek Bridge and St Helens Point Road. A total length of 3.61km has been identified” The supposed proposal is stated that this so called upgrade will improve safety and provide improved road alignment and cross section with greater overtaking opportunities.
The changed proposed just north of the basin Creek Bridge and the operator of the Archery Centre is a very beautiful section of the road. It would appear that the main reason for this proposal is the two bends in the road as it makes its assent to the Flagstaff Road turnoff . In the present configuration it would appear from the comments made that there hasn’t been a history of more accidents in this area in spite of the bends in the road. It should be pointed out that most people like myself recognise that this is almost at the outskirts of St. Helens where traffic limitations apply and that one uses this section to recognise that this adjustment will soon have to be made.
In a recent RACT survey (see ABC news Tasman Highway voted worst Tasmanian road 30th January 2021) the Tasman Highway was voted as being the worst road in Tasmania however Stacey Pennicott from RACT noted that “fixing the road would not be easy as it is renowned for being a scenic route. You don’t want to lose the unique nature of the drive because it’s well known for the fantastic views and things along the way,” ….. “A great deal of consideration would need to go into how we address that particular road to make it safe but not lose the uniqueness.
The most important reason for maintaining this corridor is that this would be one of the more scenic sections of the road. Most fo the section between Scamander and St. Helens is only lightly forested whilst this section has majestic trees. Other than the fact that road managers have exceptions to the code no one else as a private land holder would be able to desecrate the trees from this section of the road. Stacey hit the nail on the head when she said we need a great deal of consideration which hasn’t happened.
It should be pointed out too that the Department of Main Roads or whatever they are called in Tasmania hasn’t got a good record of maintaining a sensitivity towards development. The road to Flagstaff Hill is an excellent example. Private land at the turnoff was used for layout of materials and equipment during construction of the bike riding facilities and a heavily forested area at the junction was decimated. God help us if our roads end up looking like the Midland highway with cables separating the lanes and town bypasses such as the one built at Perth. Town planners are you sure you want to emanate the boringness and blandness of mainland Highways?
I suggest that there are a couple of better solutions that could be applied to this section of the road. I gather alternatives were not put up for consideration in the past. But if you want to straighten the road then the bends could be bypassed as shown in the attached listmap.
The road then would substantially bypass the more heavily forested area to the west and provide a more gentle gradient. The more heavily forested area along the existing road would not be removed.
The best alternative though is to just accept that the road demands slowing down to protect this section of the scenic corridor. Imagine if you were in Yosemite or Kings Canyon national park and you wanted the road to take preference over the majestic trees that prevail there. It would not even be a consideration to remove them. We have a long way to go before the bureaucrats step down from their processes of regulatory madness and realise that development has to be greatly sensitised and applied to all parts of our society including the Government and local councils. We live here , we come here we want to be here because we have the most untouched part of Australia and perhaps the world.
We are a lay back society so used to having our lives ruled by regulatory madness that in the end we can lose what we most like about our homelands. It is not easy to recognise the changes that seem to happen seamlessly. Even the so-called protection of the Coastal corridor enstrined in our planning code cannot even be made to work in this instance.
Further comments: 21/3/2021, Work has started on the road changes to St. Helens and it is an obvious blight on our envirionment. Now people are telling me how offended they are by the desecration that is being forced upon. In our society we do not seem to have the tools to stop this so called ‘progress’ and as a result we end up conforming and losing all that makes our environment so attractive. Soon the old Scamander Bridge will also be removed. When that happens we again lose one of our icons. This bridge should be retained as it offers visitors and locals alike a place to fish , wlak ride and generally escape the traffic on the new bridge where such activities would probably be prohibited. The cost of removinig it would have paid for its upkeep for many years. Scamander needs this bridge. It could be used for market days , festivals as part of a touring bicycle route, as a way of watching water events in the river such as a rowing regatta and much more. Come on everyone speak up.