NSW Coalition delivers Country Bridge Solutions

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Minister for Roads and Freight Duncan Gay today announced at the Fixing Country Roads briefing session in Tamworth a new, innovative program to help fast track the replacement of old council owned timber bridges in NSW.

Called Country Bridge Solutions, it’s a program to deliver a standard bridge design making it easier and cheaper for NSW councils to replace old and worn structures.

Minister Gay said some councils struggle with both the design and engineering aspects of replacing an old bridge – not an easy task at the best of times – a situation which can lead to costly project delays and overruns.

“In essence, Roads and Maritime Services has designed a ‘cookie cutter’ method to assist councils in designing and building new bridges on their local roads,” he said.

To kick-start the program, RMS has developed an initial design for a pre-stressed concrete modular bridge system to deliver structures with a maximum span length of 12 metres; dimensions which suit the vast majority of old timber bridges in the state.

“Since April 2011, the NSW Government has delivered an historic $1.55 billion in grants to councils to upgrade and repair their roads and bridges. We now want to help them get more ‘bang for their buck’ by providing smart, cost-effective bridge building solutions.”

Recognising even more needs to be done to assist regional councils, the 2014-15 State Budget committed an extra $37.5 million from the state’s dedicated infrastructure fund – Restart NSW – to a new works program called Fixing Country Roads.

The NSW Government also worked closely with the Australian Government to develop its national Bridge Renewal Programme. From 2014-15 to 2018-19, the Commonwealth has provisioned $95 million to help upgrade and replace council owned bridges in NSW.

$209.5 million (including $19.5 million in Federal funding) has also been allocated to the State Government’s Bridges for the Bush – an initiative to upgrade or replace bridges at 17 key locations in country NSW.

Minister Gay said under the Country Bridge Solutions initiative, councils can nominate timber bridges they would like replaced as a high priority.

“The NSW Government will work closely with regional councils to develop a detailed inventory on the condition of nominated timber bridges and then generate a priority list focused on improving road safety and removing road freight pinch points,” he said.

Country Bridge Solutions will allow the NSW Government to get a precise ‘line of sight’ of council owned bridges needing replacement to better connect regional communities and improve road freight productivity.

RMS has also been liaising with the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia to incorporate its past findings and recommendations on timber bridge management in NSW.

“People must remember that council owned roads and bridges are exactly that – they are owned and managed by councils; they are not the responsibility of the State or Commonwealth.

“Having said that, we recognise the need to collaborate with councils to build an accurate inventory of the condition of local bridges to help strategically allocate available State and Commonwealth funding,” Minister Gay said.

As part of 2014 Fixing Country Roads regional briefings, RMS officials have already engaged with council delegates about Country Bridge Solutions at Parkes, Wagga Wagga, Batemans Bay, Coffs Harbour, Maitland and today Tamworth.

The NSW Government expects the inventory of council nominated timber bridges to be finalised by the end of January 2015.

Key features

  • Components can be manufactured in bulk and easily transported to site and lifted into place, leading to cost savings of up to 10 to 15 per cent compared to traditional timber bridge builds.
  • Future-proofed for 100 years, including a load capacity of 160 tonnes (SM1600 specification). This will help to remove road freight ‘pinch points’ on local and regional roads in country NSW.
  • Simple and easy to build, hence local and council workforces can be used (including local prefabrication companies).

MEDIA: Siobhan McCarthy 0410 639 786

View the original media release (PDF)

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