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.
Yellow option announced as preferred option
The yellow option, a high level bridge (a bridge without a lift span) downstream of the existing bridge, has been announced as the preferred option for a future bridge at Tooleybuc.
Roads and Maritime received 18 comments from community members about this option, and the issues raised and how Roads and Maritime proposes to address them can found in Community Update May 2016.
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.
Each option has been assessed in line with the objectives of:
- improving the road by reducing curves
- allowing Higher Mass Limit Vehicles (trucks carrying heavier loads) to cross the river
- minimising traffic interruptions at the crossing
- reducing ongoing maintenance costs
- minimising environmental impacts and maximising 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).
Once completed, the REF and PSA will be publicly displayed and further community feedback sought.
Roads and Maritime is continuing to develop the bridge’s design.