Freight boosting bridge upgrades announced across 25 sites

Higher mass limit (HML) vehicles will be given greater access in the Tenterfield region after it was announced that work on 25 bridges would be undertaken to boost the movement of freight.

The Federal Government is committing $600,000 on top of the New South Wales Government’s $3.18 million package to upgrade and extend the serviceable lives of these bridges.

A high number of bridges are found throughout the Tenterfield district. These measures are anticipated to enable the continual movement of vital freight while the council plans for new structures.

Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Member for New England Barnaby Joyce said the freight industry is an essential component of Australia’s economy.

“Freight operators undertake important activities that help to feed families and communities, keep businesses functioning, and underpin a strong economy,” said Joyce, who is also the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, said.

“Ensuring the safe and efficient movement of goods across the country is in the interest of every Australian, which is why the Australian Government is backing these much-needed infrastructure upgrades.”

Bridges set for upgrades include three structures on Billirimba Road; two structures on Mount Clunie Road; two structures on Beaury Creek Road; and structures on Black Swamp Road, Hootons Road, White Swamp Road, Castlerag Road, Sunnyside Loop Road, Leeches Gully Road, Back Creek Road, Gould Falls Road, Silent Grove Road, Mount Speribo Road, Cullens Creek Road, Boorook Road, Springfield Road, Cheviot Hills Road, Lower Rocky River Road, Urbenville Road, Wallaroo Range Road, Mole River Road and Barlows Gate Road.

The upgrades totalling $3.18 million have been funded through the NSW Government’s Fixing Country Roads program and included $600,000 in funding through the Federal Government’s Drought Communities Program Extension and a further $245,000 from Tenterfield Shire Council.

Under the Interim Bridge Solutions project, some preliminary investigations were also carried out on structures on Paddy’s Flat, Torrington, and Leeches Gully Roads.

New South Wales Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said the New South Wales Government’s funding contribution through the Fixing Country Roads program provided certainty for HML vehicles to access these bridges for up to 25 years.

“Our $543 million Fixing Country Roads program supports important upgrades to the road network to improve the efficiency of freight across regional New South Wales,” said Toole.

“Upgrades to these Tenterfield bridges will reduce the impact on freight access throughout the region between now and when the bridges can be progressively replaced to support the continued growth of the freight task across the state.

“Projects like these might sound small in scale, but they are an absolute game-changer for freight operators who rely on them to get from A to B as quickly and as safely as possible.”

Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia and Federal Member for Maranoa David Littleproud said the upgrades offer a speedy solution to improve the load capacity of a number of ageing bridges, while planning for longer-term upgrades.

“There are many ageing bridges throughout the Tenterfield district and these measures allow us to keep the freight industry moving while we continue investigations for potential new structures that will serve local communities, freight operators and the agricultural industry for years to come,” said Littleproud.

Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz said upgrades would ensure freight activity in the region is not impacted and operators can continue to move the goods Australians rely on.

“The repairs vary from bridge to bridge and include strengthening existing timber structures, the full timber replacement of several other structures, upgrades with pre-fabricated concrete components, and in some cases, alternate routes to deviate around the bridge,” said Buchholz.

Senator for New South Wales Jim Molan said the upgrades will be critical to ensuring these bridges meet the needs of the community well into the future.

“These upgrades will change lives and save lives, and is another example of the Liberal and Nationals Government delivering for New England,” said Molan.

“The projects will help connect communities and improve safety, while creating jobs and supporting our economic recovery.”

Additional funding has been provided through the NSW Government’s Fixing Country Bridges program, Australian Government Bridges Renewal Program and Council funding, for the replacement of three bridges on Paddy’s Flat Road and one bridge each on Leeches Gully Road, Torrington Road and Graham’s Creek Road with new concrete structures. These projects are due for completion in 2022, weather permitting.

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