NOWRA bridge is not falling down.
However, doubt over the ageing structure’s ability to carry heavy traffic into the future was raised during the victory speech of new Member for Gilmore Ann Sudmalis.
A third river crossing will be a top priority for Ms Sudmalis.
“It can take the traffic if it’s passenger vehicles for an extended time,” Ms Sudmalis said.
“But some of the loads we’re getting on the southbound bridge now are too big and it results in shutting the northbound bridge occasionally to let large loads through. That’s just ridiculous,” she said.
Ms Sudmalis said the high cost of the project would most likely put funding another bridge beyond the reach of the state government alone.
For this reason she said she had been lobbying for funds prior to being elected.
“I’ve already chatted with [the then] shadow ministers for finance Andrew Rob and infrastructure and transport Warren Truss,” she said.
“The path to their office is well worn.
“It is far better to get this sorted and planned for sooner because there’s quite a significant population growth predicted for the Shoalhaven.” she said.
Member for South Coast Shelley Hancock wanted to reassure motorists and residents that “it’s not going to fall down”.
“We [the state government] have spent an enormous amount of money on it,” she said.
“In 2011-12 we spent $375,000, in 2012-13 we spent $700,000 and in 2013-14, we will spend $450,000.
“It is a lot to devote to the repair and maintenance of that bridge.
“We’re not going to slow down in trying to get another bridge but people should be assured it’s not falling down.
“We realise the importance of replacing it and we appreciate the Coalition’s commitment to $10 million for studies.”
Member for Kiama Gareth Ward said the Labor government had ignored the Nowra bridge and was hopeful that things would be different with the change of government.
“Now that we have a Liberal member in government I’m hopeful the feds can contribute along with state on this,” he said.
“This is a bridge that is 132 years old, was originally constructed as a rail bridge and now carries an average of 50,000 southbound movements a day.
“The premier made it clear last year this would be a project that would require federal assistance.
“I know that Ann Sudmalis will be fighting for us in Canberra just as Joanna Gash did previously.”