More than 200 students and their teachers from schools across Scone got a behind the scenes tour of the New England Highway bypass ahead of the planned installation of the project’s final girder next week.

NSW Nationals Member for Upper Hunter Michael Johnsen said students from Scone High School, Scone Grammar and Scone Public School were given a briefing on the construction of the Parsons Gully Bridge.

“Students were able to see a 500-tonne mobile crane in action and had the chance to ask questions compiled in their classes at school,” Mr Johnsen said. “Already 96 of the Parsons Gully Bridge girders have now been installed, with spans now bridging Kingdon and Liverpool Streets.”

“Once complete the bridge will be a 540 metre-long key component of the bypass, and will use 124 girders, each of which are 27 metres long and weight 45 tonnes.” 

Scone Public School principal Deborah Fisher said students were intrigued by the bypass and discussions about it had generated “plenty of questions and ideas”.

“It’s an enormous project of great technical complexity and seeing it up close is an additional stimulant for these hungry young minds,” Ms Fisher said.

“STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects are a priority in today’s education environment and teachers are very aware of the importance of guiding students with potential to develop these skills, so to be able to demonstrate the career possibilities in these sectors is invaluable.

“There are also great opportunities in infrastructure for trades and business, so a project like the Scone bypass appeals to a broad cross-section of the school population.”

The New England Highway is a major freight and commuter route, which forms part of the Sydney to Brisbane corridor of the National Land Transport Network and is the primary route connecting the Upper Hunter with Maitland and Newcastle.

The $137 million Scone Bypass will remove around 500 heavy vehicles per day from Kelly Street, which will improve local traffic flow and road safety, and will reduce travel times for freight.