South East Australian Transport Strategy chairperson and Shoalhaven City Councillor Patricia White was caught by surprise when she heard how many bridges needed to be replaced along the Princes Highway.
A heavy vehicles regulatory meeting in November revealed most bridges from Nowra to the Victorian border needed to be upgraded, Cr White said.
“It was surprising to me just how many bridges need to be replaced in the South Eastern area of Australia.”
She said every bridge in NSW south of Nowra, with the exception Burrill Lake bridge which has recently been replaced, had an issue and most needed to be replaced.
Condies Creek bridge at Wandandian particularly concerned Cr White because school children had to cross the narrow structure to get to their bus stop.
“We have school children on either side of that and the bus can’t obviously pick up between the bridge and winery because the road has no shoulders on it,” she said.
“Potentially there could be a fatal there. The bus stops just south of the bridge. It’s a real concern and it should be a major concern to RMS to get replaced as soon as possible.”
Cr White said Roads and Maritime Services knew what bridges needed to replaced or realigned including bridges at Falls Creek, Moruya, Narooma and near Bega.
“We need to be looking at funding these bridges because they don’t get built overnight,” she said.
“They take a good three to four years, maybe five years, by the time they do the planning, by the time they get the tenders out, fund it.
“We’re talking five or six years; we need to start now and we need to have a progressive program, yes we need to upgrade the highway, but we need a progressive program of replacing all of the bridges.”
Freight and large numbers of tourists would enjoy a safer and more efficient journey south, Cr White said.
Currently the Manildra Group flour mill at Bomaderry sends freight to Victoria, but drivers had to climb Mount Ousley, then use Picton Road to get onto the Hume Highway.
Bega Cheese has also backed the FIX IT NOW campaign with the company’s group transport manager, Michael Lamperd, saying Bega Cheese was “very supportive” and keen to “be part of the conversation”.
“If we could start opening up the southern route, where we can duplicate [the highway] and replace these bridges, we could move the freight south down [the Princes Highway],” Cr White said.
Fairfax Media launched the FIX IT NOW campaign across its south-east mastheads which have called on the state and federal governments to agree to an 80-20 funding formula to enable a major highway upgrade.
State and federal governments have agreed to fund the new bridge at Nowra while the NSW Government will fund the new Batemans Bay Bridge.