Local state MPs Gareth Ward and Shelley Hancock have reaffirmed their commitment to keeping the historic 137-year-old iron Nowra bridge.
Rumours have been been circulating that the bridge’s future, which was guaranteed by the state government this time last year, might not have been secure as first thought.
Mr Ward claims “Labor want to take down the bridge” something denied by Labor South Coast candidate Annette Alldrick who said she has “heard nothing to suggest her party might scrap the idea of keeping bridge”.
“We made it clear we want to preserve it,” Mr Ward said.
Mrs Hancock said the decision to keep the old Nowra bridge was made in consultation with the community.
“It will absolutely stay,” she said.
“Given its heritage value to the area and the community, we are retaining the bridge and we are not going to change our minds on that.”
Completed in 1881, it is the only example of a pin-jointed Whipple truss bridge in service in NSW. It was the first of its type in the country.
RMS documents revealed keeping the structure would cost between $15-$25 million to fix a variety of problems with the bridge and then a further maintenance cost of around $15m over 50 years or $300,000 a year.
To relocate or remove the structure is estimated to cost between $10-$20 million.
RMS has stated it spends around $1m a year now on maintenance of the bridge, but that is expected to be less when traffic is eventually removed from the structure.
But with on-going maintenance funding assured, the future of the bridge was secure.
Investigations are being held into the potential uses for the bridge once it is retired from the road network ensuring it is able to be easily adapted for multiple purposes and also include a shared pedestrian and cyclist path.
Mrs Hancock dismissed suggestions that if the old metal bridge was removed it could in fact lead to undermining of the northbound concrete bridge.
“That’s not true at all,” she said.
“Those investigations have been undertaken for a long while about the effect it might have if we pull it [the old bridge] down.
“The decision made to retain it was purely on community consultations and desire to retain the old bridge.”
Mrs Hancock said if Labor was elected and made a decision to then remove the old bridge it would be a “smack in the face for the local community”.
“Michael Daley has come to the area once in the last eight years I know of,” she said.
“He calls a town hall meeting then goes - doesn’t listen to what the community actually needs or wants - doesn’t know clearly about the consultation that has occurred and doesn’t understand the community is uniquely linked to its heritage and the Nowra bridge is part of that.
“It’s going to be very costly to maintain it but as a government we have decided to retain the old bridge.”
Although not able to categorically guarantee the old bridge's future, Labor South Coast candidate Annette Alldrick said she has heard nothing to suggest her party might scrap the idea of keeping the bridge.
“I’ve had no discussions on the bridge’s future and to be quite honest it has never even come up in conversation,” she said.
“It’s not something we have gotten into.
“From a personal point of view, as far as I’m concerned it should stay.”