FEDERAL Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce said the last single lane bridge between Walcha and Inverell will begin one of its final construction phases on Tuesday [15 December].
Mr Joyce took part in an on-site visit at Abington Creek Bridge with Uralla Shire Council Mayor, Michael Pearce and the Shire’s Director of Infrastructure and Regulation, Rob Bell and the construction team, as the final preparations were being made to start the placement of pre-cast planks on the foundation piers.
Mr Joyce said the new bridge which received a grant of $705,000 from the Federal Government’s Bridges Renewal programme, would provide a vital link for cattle bound for Inverell’s Bindaree Beef abattoir. The NSW Government also provided $705,000 with a contribution from the Uralla Shire Council.
He said the current wooden bridge could only just cope with B-Double trucks but the new bridge would easily accommodate Higher Mass Limit (HML) transports.
“In particular, our Bridges Renewal programme will improve road access for local traffic and increase efficiency on local roads, which will be a relief to all,” he said.
“The New England Electorate is a vibrant region and our Government is investing in its continued growth.
“Councils will play a significant role in managing these projects, ensuring these bridges can continue to contribute to productivity and community access.”
Mr Bell said once the pre-cast planks were settled, the road bed would be poured, the guard rails installed and then the completed bridge would be handed over to the Uralla Shire Council.
He said about 700 metres of approaches needed to be constructed by the council and its contractors to complete the job, which would include 100 kilometre-an-hour curves.
“The old Abington Bridge is now the last single lane bridge between Inverell and Walcha and with the high volumes of livestock transporters to and from these centres, the new Abington Bridge will be well received,” Mr Bell said.
Mr Bell said the four-man crew working on the Abington Bridge had also been part of the construction team on the recently-opened Emu Creek Bridge at Bundarra.
Mr Joyce said the second round of the $100 million Bridges Renewal programme closed at the end of August, with successful projects to be selected through a competitive, merit-based process.
Caption: Uralla Shire Council’s Director of Infrastructure and Regulation, Rob Bell, construction crew foreman, Ryan McBriar, Uralla Shire Council Mayor, Cr Michael Pearce, the Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce and construction crew members Heath Bennett and Shannon Glover.