After weeks of rain, blue skies made for spectacular views for the crowds of people who thronged across the new Batemans Bay Bridge on Saturday.
With a price tag of $274 million, the project to replace Batemans Bay’s ageing but iconic bridge marked a historic milestone with a community walk led by local emergency services across the new span.
Bega MP Andrew Constance said the bridge opening to traffic months ahead of schedule was a win for the entire community.
“This community walkover is a great opportunity to celebrate all the hard work that has gone into making this bridge a reality, and the difference it will make for future generations,” he said.
“Replacing the old bridge means emergency services are no longer cut off when the bridge is raised, significantly improving response times during crises.
“I’m also pleased we have been able to get the bridge open with a lane in each direction before the Easter break. This time of year is really the last opportunity for visitors to enjoy some fantastic South Coast weather before winter so it’s great the bridge is ready in time.”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the opening of the new bridge was an historic moment for Batemans Bay which would improve access along the Princes Highway and reduce traffic delays.
“It is now easier than ever to travel to and access the beautiful South Coast, providing an economic boost to our communities, and delivering a much-needed new link for the entire region,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“Work to build the bridge has also contributed to the local economy with the project employing around 1000 people since major work started in 2019, with nearly half of them local to this area.”
Princes Highway northbound traffic will be the first moved onto one lane of the new bridge followed a few hours later by the southbound traffic moving onto another lane.
The opening of the new bridge also signals the start of the removal of the existing bridge, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year, at which time it is expected the new bridge will open to four lanes of traffic.
Today was a bittersweet moment for some in the crowd, who have grown up with the old bridge as a landmark.
Among them was Judy Cross, whose father Victor Ison helped build the old bridge and walked over it at its opening in 1956.
“As we walk over the new bridge, I’m sure he will be watching and smiling and remembering,” Judy said.
The opening also bought back memories for Rosemarie Swan.
“Mum’s dad, Nes Christensen, along with Harry Dunn, build the eight car ferry in 1925, which went back and forth across the Clyde,” she said.