Three bridges are being upgraded across the Upper Hunter in New South Wales to allow unrestricted B-double access.
Minister for Regional Transport and Roads, Paul Toole, said two new 70-metre-long concrete bridges crossing the Paterson River at Gresford and Lostock had replaced the two existing timber bridges, while another 39-metre-long bridge replacing the old timber Omadale Brook Bridge was on track to be completed next month.
“With the amount of freight moved across regional NSW expected to increase by 12 percent to 286 million tonnes by 2036, we are investing in infrastructure that makes a real difference for generations to come,” said Toole.
“Through our $543 million Fixing Country Roads program, projects like these have unlocked regional job opportunities in construction, while providing upgraded freight routes to save time and deliver smoother, safer and more efficient bridges and roads.”
Member for Upper Hunter, Michael Johnsen, said Dungog Shire Council receiving funding to replace the two existing timber bridges across the Paterson River was a big win for the community and operators moving freight through the area.
“It means trucks using the Coulston and Spooner Bridges at Gresford and Lostock can travel with loads over 30 tonnes, while the bridges and approaches will be upgraded to a width of 4.6 metres for safer passage, especially for B-Doubles,” said Johnsen.
“On top of delivering better journeys for motorists, the projects generated 17 jobs during construction, helping to keep our local economy ticking during tough times.”
The projects totalled more than $4.15 million, and were jointly funded by the NSW Government and Dungog Shire Council.
Dungog Shire Council Mayor, John Connors, said the two new Paterson River bridges allowed load limits to be removed and opened up more efficient transport opportunities for the local agricultural communities.
“Restrictions on heavy vehicles access, especially during last summer’s drought conditions, made the transport of stock feed and water both difficult and expensive for our local producers,” said Connors.
“Safety has also been improved with guard-railing brought up to current specifications including a high handrail for cyclists, horse riders and pedestrians.”
The new concrete dual-lane Omadale Brook Bridge replaces an old timber single-lane bridge and has a 68-tonne HML capacity to ensure that Hunter Road remains a viable route for freight.
Upper Hunter Shire Mayor Maurice Collison said the bigger, safer bridge would be fantastic for agriculture transport year-round and more reliable in flood conditions.
“The locals have watched the construction of the new bridge with great interest and are looking forward to the safety and efficiency benefits it will bring. It’s been a very successful partnership with the NSW Government, Council and the contractor,” said Collison.
Creating 12 jobs during construction, the $1.9 million project, funded under $1.84 million from Fixing Country Roads and Upper Hunter Shire Council providing the remaining funding, is on track to open to traffic next month, weather permitting.
The Fixing Country Roads program supports regional councils to repair, strengthen, seal or widen roads, build new truck washes, and strengthen or replace worn-out bridges and culverts.