Minister for Roads and Freight Duncan Gay was joined by Federal Member for Riverina Michael McCormack for the turning of the first sod on the second Carrathool Bridge across the Murrumbidgee River on Carrathool Road.
Minister Gay said building this new bridge is critical to the community, benefitting farmers, freight operators and residents alike.
“The NSW and Federal coalition governments are committing up to $7.5 million each to build a new two lane bridge, helping to remove a notorious transport and freight pinch point in the Western Riverina,” Mr Gay said.
“The new bridge will be wider, stronger and safer helping to support vital freight movements of grain, livestock and cotton; not to mention allowing bigger farm machinery to cross the Murrumbidgee River at Carrathool.
“As a great case in point, the new bridge will allow cotton trucks to better access the Rivcott Gin located on the southern side of the river.”
Mr McCormack said it will also remove the current situation whereby heavier freight trucks are forced to take a 120 kilometre detour; in the process eliminating 2,000 separate truck trips on local roads each year.
“In monetary terms, for every dollar spent on the new bridge, the NSW agricultural and freight economy will benefit to the tune of $2.70,” Mr McCormack said.
“The current heritage listed timber truss Carrathool Bridge is 91 years old and recently underwent a $7.8 million upgrade as part of the NSW Government’s Bridges for the Bush program; albeit it still is subject to a weight limit of 62.5 tonnes.
“We have an obligation to maintain the old structure because it is a unique combination of an Allan truss – named after Percy Allan who joined the NSW Department of Public Works in 1878 – and a Bascule lift span bridge that allowed river boat steamers to pass under when the ‘nation rode on the sheep’s back.”
State Member for Murray Adrian Piccoli said construction of the new bridge will be managed by Carrathool and Murrumbidgee shire councils.
“This work will be funded under the Australian Government Bridges Renewal Program and the NSW Government’s $200 million expansion of Bridges for the Bush under Rebuilding NSW which involves the lease of ‘poles and wires’,” Mr Piccoli said.
“The NSW Government has provided $200,000 funding for a detailed concept design to provide an accurate design and cost to build the new bridge.
“We look forward to working with the Australian Government and local councils as the project moves forward.”
Tenders for this work have closed and Councils are currently assessing submissions.
A design and construct tender will be awarded in early 2016 and the bridge will be complete and open to traffic by mid-2018.