Planning for a new Tooleybuc Bridge – Bridges for the Bush

Roads and Maritime Services, in partnership with VicRoads, has funding to plan for a future Murray River bridge on the Mallee Highway at Tooleybuc. The yellow option, a high level bridge downstream of the existing bridge, has been identified as the preferred option. The project is part of the NSW Government's Bridges for the Bush initiative, which aims to improve freight productivity in regional areas.

Tooleybuc Bridge
Tooleybuc Bridge

Updates and announcements

Roads and Maritime received 18 comments from community members about the preferred yellow option, a high level bridge (a bridge without a lift span) downstream of the existing bridge.

The issues raised and how Roads and Maritime proposes to address them can found in Community Update May 2016.

Yellow option announced as preferred option

The yellow option has been announced as the preferred option for a future bridge at Tooleybuc. Planning will now continue to provide a high level bridge about 250 metres downstream of the existing bridge.

The NSW Government has allocated $1 million in 2015/16 under the Bridges for the Bush program. The project is jointly funded with the Victorian Government.

Strategic route options investigated

The project team developed three route options for further investigation.

The options were:

  • YELLOW OPTION - A high level bridge about 250 metres downstream of the existing bridge.
  • BLUE OPTION - A low level bridge with lift span immediately next to and upstream of the existing bridge.
  • PURPLE OPTION - A low level bridge with lift span about 140 metres upstream of existing bridge.

In November 2014 a value management workshop was held with participants from Roads and Maritime, VicRoads, Wakool, Swan Hill and Balranald councils, local business owners and community members. The workshop assessed each of the three options against a range of criteria to recommend an option for further development.

Environmental studies have been carried out on all three options which included noise and vibration, urban design/ landscape and visual, socio economic analysis, hydrology (flood modelling), biodiversity and Aboriginal heritage.

These studies have been summarised in a Preliminary Environmental Investigation (PEI) report.

Preferred option

Each option has been assessed against the following project objectives:

  • Improve the road by reducing curves
  • Allow Higher Mass Limit Vehicles (trucks carrying heavier loads) to cross the river
  • Minimise traffic interruptions at the crossing
  • Reduce ongoing maintenance costs
  • Minimise environmental impacts and maximise town appeal.

The combined results of the environmental studies, the value management workshop and other technical investigations have helped determine the YELLOW OPTION as the preferred option.

Key reasons for choosing this option are:

  • It provides a more efficient road for heavy vehicle traffic while still providing a direct connection to Tooleybuc
  • It eliminates a lift span bridge and reduces ongoing maintenance costs
  • It provides a more attractive Tooleybuc town centre by removing heavy vehicle traffic, promoting the river front and opportunities for tourists to stop.

What happens next?

The preferred option will continue to be refined, taking into consideration feedback from the community.

An environmental assessment called a Review of Environmental Factors (REF), the next step in the NSW environmental assessment process, is currently being prepared. The REF will assess the potential social, economic and environmental impacts of the project once designs have been further developed.

In Victoria, planning approval for the preferred option is achieved through a Planning Scheme Amendment (PSA).

The REF and PSA are expected to be on public display in mid 2016 when further community feedback will be sought.

Further investigations will occur in coming months, including Aboriginal cultural heritage testing and ground condition testing.

Roads and Maritime is continuing to develop the bridge’s design. An updated design will be provided to the community later in the year to show what the bridge would look like.

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