16 December 2022

A tale of two new bridges in Hilltops country

| Edwina Mason
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Bridge illustration

The new 30-metre rail-overpass bridge at Wallendbeen includes additional six-metre approaches on either end, two four-metre-wide traffic lanes, two-metre-wide shoulders and wire mesh safety screens. Image: Transport for NSW.

It’s all about the bridges of the Hilltops region right now with work to build the new permanent road-over-rail bridge at Wallendbeen set to start this month and a $2.5 million overhaul of Sheedys Bridge at Kingsvale.

Subcontractor Abergeldie was awarded the contract for construction of the new concrete girder bridge on Burley Griffin Way following the 2021 emergency removal of the existing bridge due to severe damage sustained during a wet-weather event.

In October 2021, a temporary single-lane steel bridge was installed, allowing motorists to drive the full length of Burley Griffin Way without the need for lengthy detours.

READ ALSO Immediate demolition for Wallendbeen bridge as road and rail services disrupted

Burley Griffin Way is a key route on the network linking the Hume Highway to the Riverina and the Olympic and Newell highways.

The new permanent bridge will return a two-lane crossing to motorists, improving safety and travel times on this important freight corridor.

The new bridge will be the same height as the original one, featuring a 30m-long bridge deck with an additional six-metre approach on either end, two four-metre-wide traffic lanes, two-metre-wide shoulders and wire mesh safety screens.

Construction of the permanent bridge is scheduled to start this month and is expected to take about a year to complete, weather permitting.

As a result of community consultation, Transport for NSW is continuing to work with Hilltops Council on options for a dedicated pedestrian path across the rail line, which will be added following construction of the new bridge.

These options include:

  • Attaching a dedicated pedestrian and cyclist bridge to the new permanent bridge
  • Using the temporary bridge’s existing abutments, which support the end of a bridge deck, for a dedicated pedestrian and cyclist bridge.
Margaret Roles and Steph Cooke

Hilltops Mayor Margaret Roles (left) with Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke after it was announced about $2.4 million would be spent on replacing the existing 85-year-old Sheedys Bridge at Kingsvale. Photo: Steph Cooke.

Meanwhile, Hilltops Council has received funding of $2,409,700 to replace Sheedys Bridge on Woodlands Road, Kingsvale.

State Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the 85-year-old bridge would be replaced with a stronger, sturdier and more resilient concrete version.

“This funding is about ensuring that our councils have the support they need to keep the community connected,” Ms Cooke said.

“We know ageing timber bridges like this one are just not up to the task anymore, especially during a flood, so by replacing them with more modern materials we not only improve our network resilience but also take the pressure off the council to maintain them.

“As we’ve seen with the recent flooding, a concrete structure can be the difference between reopening a road the day after it floods, or closing it for a week until an impacted bridge is assessed and repaired.”

READ ALSO Steve McGrath appointed as Cootamundra-Gundagai’s interim general manager

Hilltops Council general manager Anthony O’Reilly said the upgrade, funded by the NSW Government’s Fixing Country Bridges Program, would improve community connectivity.

“The new structure will increase the weight limit on the bridge, which will provide farmers better access to markets for agriculture products, which is the lifeblood of the economy,” Mr O’Reilly said.

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway said the Fixing Country Bridges Program was helping local councils upgrade their bridges and keep communities connected to markets, jobs and essential services such as schools and hospitals.

“We are helping councils build bridges that are wider, higher and stronger and support greater load limits,” Mr Farraway said.

“Allowing greater volumes of freight will mean a boost for transport efficiencies and productivity in agriculture and other rural industries.”

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