It is still hoped the memorial bridge will be open for Remembrance Day. (ABC News: David Hudspeth)
Hobart City Council can not confirm whether its $11 million memorial footbridge will be open in time for Remembrance Day after the contractor postponed key works due to concerns over aesthetics.
Contractors Fulton Hogan project manager Matthew Grundy said plans to raise the span of the bridge this weekend were cancelled because they did not like how the cladding of the structure would have looked.
“The design of the bridge is unique and highly complex, with the cladding being a major feature,” he said.
“We were not satisfied with how the cladding would look in its finished form, and as such decided to postpone the beam lift.”
The work to raise the span, which crosses the Tasman Highway adjacent to the Hobart Cenotaph, would have closed all lanes of the road for three days.
Whether construction can still be finished in time for Remembrance Day, which will be the 100th anniversary of the First World War’s Armistice, is not clear according to Hobart City Council general manager Nick Heath.
“I do remain hopeful that lift will occur prior to Remembrance Day because that’s such an important day on our calendar,” he said.
“One hundred years since the signing of Armistice — this bridge is there to celebrate that.
Hobart Lord Mayor Ron Christie said he would “love” for it to be open and accessible on November 11, but they were in the hands of the contractors.
The appearance of the cladding was not satisfactory, the builder says. (Supplied: Hobart City Council)
On Saturday morning, the council announced the road closure would not go ahead but Fulton Hogan only explained their reasons for cancelling today.
Mr Heath said he respected Fulton Hogan was the main contractor, saying it was important for them to gather all their information, but the delivery of their explanation “could have been quicker”.
“We would have expected an announcement to be made slightly earlier,” he said.
He also hit out at alleged misinformation regarding the cancelled works.
“We’ve been really disappointed with some of the commentary that’s been made … we’ve been told it’s too short, too low and things like that,” Mr Heath said.
“Nothing could be further from the truth.”
The footbridge will link the Soldiers Walk with the Cenotaph. (Supplied: Hobart City Council)
‘Our community will embrace this bridge’
Alderman Christie said he believed Fulton Hogan’s priority was doing right by the community.
“We take their advice, and the one thing that’s important here is we don’t want to close that Tasman Highway twice,” he said.
Despite the postponement of this weekend’s works, he remained confident the bridge would become a Hobart landmark.
“It’s part of the ANZAC centenary, and this is going to connect soldiers memorial walk to the Cenotaph.
“But more importantly … it’s going to connect our city to the cycle walkway and it’s going to give greater access to the Domain.
“Mark my words, this will be absolutely embraced by our community in years to come.”
Fulton Hogan will choose a new date to close the Tasman Highway in consultation with the council, however the quieter school holiday window will have passed.