Despite bushfires and coronavirus, the Batemans Bay Bridge replacement project over the Clyde River continues to slowly but surely rise from the water.
NSW Roads and Maritime Services published a detailed update this week stating that the substructure and piers have been completed and that throughout the remainder of 2020, a total of 166 massive concrete bridge segments will begin making their way to the site under police escort. These will then be heaved into place via cranes and a barge.
The segments are being constructed at a facility six kilometres south of Mogo, which is now working 24 hours a day from Monday to Saturday to stay on schedule. *
In April, due to COVID-19 and fewer people being able to work together in the same building, the state government introduced new rules under the Environment Planning Assessment Order to allow construction sites to operate on weekends and public holidays.
Work on the new bridge began early last year and is due for completion in early 2023 as first planned.
The $274-million project is aimed at improving connections for commuters, holiday-makers and water users.
The current steel and concrete lifting bridge was completed in 1956 at a cost of 350,000 pounds, and has been carrying – and annoying – traffic over the Clyde River ever since.
It’s narrow and prone to creating bottlenecks, but the main issue is that twice a day when the ferry comes through the bridge opens and traffic grinds to a halt for about 10 minutes. That’s on a good day when the ‘vertical lift’ bridge doesn’t become stuck in the up position requiring action from emergency services.
Before 1956, the only way across was by ferry which could only take 28 cars every 15 minutes.
The replacement will be a double-carriageway, seamless ribbon of tarmac and concrete which towers 12 metres above the water, or high enough for yachts and ferries to easily pass underneath without impacting the traffic above.
In addition, the Eurobodalla Shire Council is in the process of upgrading the adjoining foreshore.
Following an ‘activation weekend’ in November last year, the Council drew up the ‘Waterfront Masterplan and Activation Strategy’.
“It provides a vision that sees the Clyde [River] waterfront working better for people and better for business,” said Deputy Mayor Rob Pollock.
“This draft strategy … identifies a unique youth activity space, more infrastructure to support marine-based tourism, and revamping Clyde Street with a waterfront square, improved parking alignment, more seating and potential for alfresco dining and street entertainment.”
The plan is open to online community feedback until 28 July.
The Kings and Princes Highway roundabouts at the Canberra-side entrance to Batemans Bay are both fully open now. Lights are a new addition to keep traffic flowing during peak times.
Also on the southern side, access to Wharf Road is still closed, but weather permitting, the Old Punt boat ramp will be reinstated in September.
Across the river at the future site of the renovated foreshore, there are investigations for a new floating pontoon.
*Edited to clarify construction processes.