Construction began today (21 June) on a temporary crossing bridge to replace an over-rail bridge at Wallendbeen, saving drivers a 40-minute detour.
The replacement crossing on Burley Griffin Way at Wallendbeen was required after the existing 100-year-old overbridge was damaged by heavy rain in March, requiring immediate demolition.
Burley Griffin Way has been closed to all traffic between Olympic Highway at Wallendbeen and Milvale Road at Temora since that time.
A temporary single-lane, prefabricated structure will take three months to construct, meaning the highway will reopen to traffic in September.
Wallendbeen Progress Association’s Greg Quirke has welcomed the news.
He has high hopes the temporary bridge will alleviate some of the safety concerns of residents who have had to deal with drivers diverting through the village streets.
“The nub of it is that the closure of the bridge and road has pushed traffic into the village – heavy trucks and lost drivers. I guess it could have been better signposted,” he said.
He is also looking forward to the community having input on a decent new bridge which he hopes will also accommodate pedestrians and cyclists.
“I guess we’re putting up with some short-term pain, but we’d like to see some benefit in terms of a better permanent bridge,” he said.
“We’re also concerned about the other railway bridge, which in fairness to Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), our understanding is they are ahead of us there and recognise the risk there and are assessing it,” he said.
“So let’s hope we get maybe two good new bridges with a future,” Greg added.
However, some residents have expressed their concern that a single-lane bridge will not be enough for a major route of this nature, which links the agricultural produce of the western Riverina and Murrumbidgee regions and markets such as Sydney.
The area it passes through is one of the richest agricultural areas in Australia, meaning trucks make up a significant proportion of traffic using the road.
Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said she was conscious of how much extra travel time was required to divert around the gap in the road network.
“We have been working hard on both short and long-term solutions to help the freight industry and ensure locals are able to reduce their time spent on the road,” she said.
“As someone who is constantly on our local roads, I know how much of an inconvenience this has been, and I thank everyone for their patience.”
The replacement structure comprises pre-fabricated parts and will be installed on-site over a period of about three months.
“This is a fraction of the time it would take to build a permanent crossing,” she said.
Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said Transport for NSW was also progressing the designing and planning work for a new, permanent structure that will meet better the needs of locals and the freight sector.
“We want the local community to rest assured that this process is underway and we will be keeping all stakeholders updated on progress,” Mr Toole said.
“We thank the community for its patience so far, and while this temporary bridge is installed.”
The bridge is expected to be open to traffic in September.
Construction will be carried out between 6:30 am and 5:30 pm weekdays.
Burley Griffin Way will remain closed at the railway line. Motorists should continue to use the detour via the Olympic Highway and Goldfields Way.
Motorists are advised to drive to the conditions, plan ahead, and follow signs and traffic control directions.