27 May 2021

After 65 years, it's time to say goodbye to the old Batemans Bay Bridge

| Kim Treasure
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Old Batemans Bay Bridge

The old Batemans Bay Bridge over Clyde River was opened in 1956. Photo: File.

The big job of bringing down Batemans Bay’s iconic bridge over Clyde River has begun, ending years of frustration for boaters and motorists, but changing the face of the seaside town forever.

For the past 65 years, the sight of the vertical lift truss bridge served as a welcome for residents and visitors, becoming synonymous with the town itself.

It replaced a motorised punt and initially revolutionised travel to the NSW South Coast. However, in recent years the bridge was plagued with mechanical problems and traffic jams caused by it lifting to allow river traffic underneath, and caused anger and inconvenience.

Now a new $274 million bridge has been built to take its place, and the old girl is coming down (video courtesy of Keith Doran).

River conditions permitting, the southernmost truss span is scheduled for removal this week, allowing free access upstream for vessels that previously had to wait for the bridge to be opened.

Transport for NSW regional director south Sam Knight said the removal of the southernmost truss span on Wednesday, 26 May, would allow a 15-metre navigation channel for marine vessels with 10-metre clearance at high tide to be opened temporarily in the following days, eliminating the need to operate the lift span.

READ ALSO Emergency workers and Aboriginal Elders lead walk across new Batemans Bay Bridge

“Transport for NSW respectfully asks for patience and understanding from the community while the old structure is removed, as some of the work will take place outside standard construction hours,” said Ms Knight.

“Carrying out some of the bridge removal activities before dawn and at night will maximise use of favourable tides and wind speeds, with conditions often safer during these times.

“Working this way will also minimise impact on river users and ensure the old structure is removed as quickly and safely as possible.

“Transport for NSW is aiming to remove the old bridge before Christmas so here’s hoping we can deliver an early gift to a deserving community.”

Batemans Bay's new and old bridges over Clyde River

Batemans Bay’s new and old bridges side by side in January 2020. Photo: Alex Rea.

Low-impact barge movements will take place from 5:00 am to 7:00 am while removal work will be carried out between 7:00 am and 10:00 pm during weekdays, with processing to take place from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm on Saturdays, weather permitting.

All high-impact work will occur within standard construction hours of 7:00 am to 6:00 pm, except for Saturday between 1:00 pm and 6:00 pm, when processing work – which involves cutting steel and crushing concrete – will take place.

READ ALSO Bidding farewell to the old Bay Bridge and its operators as new structure soars

Noise from these activities will impact nearby residents, but Transport for NSW is committed to minimising disruptions during this work, and will monitor noise and vibration impacts to determine if further mitigation is required.

Local residents and businesses have been engaged well ahead of time to ensure they are aware of, and prepared for, the work.

A barge on the downstream side of the old bridge will carry plant and equipment, while a temporary jetty has been constructed on the northern foreshore of Korners Park to allow transfer of old bridge components for processing.

For the safety of workers and river users, land-based span removal work will take place within the project boundary.

Batemans Bay's new and old bridges

The sight of Batemans Bay’s new and old bridges together won’t be around for much longer. Photo: Alex Rea.

River-based span removal work will occur within the marine exclusion zone that is bordered by safety buoys and signage at all times.

As work progresses, the marked navigation channel and marine exclusion zones will change.

READ ALSO Work underway on next big Canberra-to-coast bridge project

All vessel operators and water users should keep a proper lookout, comply with local buoyage and signage, and exercise extreme caution when navigating near the works.

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