Windsor Bridge replacement

The NSW Government is funding this project to help improve traffic flow and provide a reliable and safe crossing of the Hawkesbury River.

Windsor Bridge
Artist's impression of the new Windsor Bridge, looking south
Salvage work
Salvage work

Archaeological salvage in the 21st century

Salvage work is currently being carried out on site to minimise any potential impact on Aboriginal and colonial archaeological artefacts.

The salvage work involves the excavation of the north-eastern area of Thompson Square using machinery. Once the top layers of the soil and debris are removed, the specialist archaeologists hand excavate through the sand body which contains the Aboriginal artefacts. The sand which is removed during this process is then wet screened by specialist Aboriginal staff to ensure nothing of historical significance is missed.

Any significant discoveries are then analysed by archaeologists and catalogued.

What has been discovered?

So far, the archaeologists have uncovered several items of colonial and Aboriginal significance, including Aboriginal stone tools and other artefacts.

The most significant colonial discovery to date is the uncovering of a brick barrel drain dating back to 1814.

According to the Hawkesbury Historical Society, the brick barrel drains were referred to as the ‘smugglers tunnels’ and were used to deliver casks of ‘illicitly brewed’ rum from the Hawkesbury River to Andrew Thompson’s store. 

Early colonial heritage

Archaeological investigations are continuing to identify the location of the brick barrel drain down to the river. The barrel drain is filled with silt but appears to be intact in all locations and has remained uncovered to date.

Several brick block drains have also been found during the excavations. The block drains were located at the original ground level and collected surface runoff across the slope and directed the flow to brick sumps. The sumps built over the barrel drains allowed the water to drop down into the barrel drain which then flowed to the river.

Brick barrel drain pumped out
Brick barrel drain pumped out

Keeping the barrel drains intact

The brick barrel drains are significant to the local community. The stories and folklore surrounding them form the rich local history the town of Windsor prides itself on.

Part of the barrel drain is located close to the southern bridge approach in Thompson Square. Roads and Maritime is adjusting the retaining wall design to ensure the barrel drain can remain where it is situated.

Cross section of the brick barrel drain
Cross section of the brick barrel drain

Other sections of the drain will be preserved in the parkland of Thompson Square and under the terrace beside the river, where further archaeological investigations are planned.

Location of brick barrel drains
Locations of brick barrel drains

What happens with the artefacts we find?

We are working with the Aboriginal stakeholders who are participating in the salvage work on site, to determine their preferred option for what happens with the artefacts. There are a few different options for the items of significance that are uncovered such as traditional reburial, displaying them in a museum, or other culturally appropriate options. This will be decided by the Aboriginal Focus Group which represents eight Aboriginal groups with a cultural attachment and authority to the project area.

The colonial artefacts will be analysed, dated and catalogued by the archaeologists to ensure we are able to specify exactly what has been found and how old the items are.

Urban Design and Landscape Plan

Roads and Maritime prepared a draft Urban Design and Landscape Plan (the draft Plan) to show how the integrated design process has carefully considered the built, natural and community environment with particular sensitivity to the unique heritage values of the area. The draft Plan was available for community comment from 13 March to 7 April.

The draft Urban Design and Landscape Plan has now been finalised as has the Submissions Report. The final draft documents will be reviewed upon approval of the Strategic Conservation Management Plan.

View or download the reports:

View the Urban Design and Landscape Plan page for more information.

Artist's impression looking south from bridge
Artist's impression looking south from bridge

Three lanes to operate from opening

To realise greater traffic improvements from the new Windsor Bridge, Roads and Maritime Services will be implementing the three lane configuration of the bridge from opening.  This change was originally scheduled to occur in 2026.

The new bridge, with two lanes southbound and one northbound, will increase traffic capacity and complement upgraded intersections on both sides of the Hawkesbury River.

For more information about the benefits for all road users:

Click on image and watch animation
Click on image and watch animation

Project background

Originally built for horse-drawn vehicles and foot traffic in 1874, Windsor Bridge is now used by up to 19,000 vehicles every day. The existing structure has deteriorated and reached the end of its useful life.  It no longer meets current road design standards so it needs to be replaced.

Roads and Maritime investigated a number of different options including repairing and replacing the bridge. We found restoration of the existing structure would only add a limited period to the life of the bridge before additional costly repairs or replacement would be needed.

Community consultation on the project began in 2009 and has continued throughout the development process. We have considered the issues raised during consultation together with environmental and heritage studies in finalising the design.

View the project questions and answers document for more information about the project.

Key features

Key features of the project include:

  • A new bridge with two lanes 35 metres downstream of the existing Windsor Bridge
  • New approach roads and intersections to connect the new bridge to the existing road network
  • New traffic lights with pedestrian facilities at the intersection of Bridge Street and George Street
  • Modifications to local roads and access arrangements, including changes to the Macquarie Park access road and reconnection of The Terrace
  • A new dual lane roundabout at the intersection of Wilberforce Street and Freemans Reach Road
  • A pedestrian and cyclist facilities, including a shared path for access to and across the new bridge
  • Removal and backfill of the existing bridge approach roads
  • Removal of the existing bridge once the new bridge is operational
  • Landscaping and urban design work, including within the Thompson Square parkland area and adjacent to the northern intersection of Wilberforce Road, Freemans Reach Road and the Macquarie Park access road.

Project benefits

Key benefits of the project include:

  • Improved safety for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists from a new, reliable bridge
  • Improved traffic flow from a bridge that allows two-way heavy vehicle traffic and shoulders for vehicle breakdowns
  • Upgrading an essential local and regional road link across the Hawkesbury River at Windsor
  • Improved traffic efficiency by installing traffic lights at the intersection of Bridge and George Streets and a new dual-lane roundabout at Freemans Reach Road and Wilberforce Road
  • A new bridge that can cope with higher levels of flooding
  • Better access for pedestrians and cyclists from a three metre wide shared pedestrian and cycle path that provides safe, efficient connections to Thompson Square and surrounds
  • Reduced road footprint within the Thompson Square heritage precinct
  • A unified open space in Thompson Square increasing the usable area in the square by more than 500 square metres with direct access to the river.

Community engagement

Roads and Maritime has carried out extensive consultation with the community and stakeholders since the project was announced in 2008. We have used a number of different methods to keep the community informed including project update newsletters, letterbox drops, newspaper advertisements, community information sessions and meetings, website updates, shopping centre displays and doorknocking.

Feedback was first invited from the community in July 2009 when nine different options were displayed for comment. Following the announcement of the preferred option in August 2011, further feedback was invited from the community to inform the concept design.

A third consultation period was carried out in November and December 2012 with the display of the concept design and environmental impact statement. We prepared a submissions report outlining the submissions received and our responses.

Traffic counting

Roads and Maritime Services recently carried out routine traffic counting surveys as part of the Windsor Bridge replacement design process.

The traffic survey took place in March.

Electronic devices were used to count traffic numbers and vehicle movements at intersections, and queue lengths at:

  • Bridge Street / Wilberforce Road / Freemans Reach Road
  • Bridge Street / George Street
  • Bridge Street / Macquarie Street
  • Bridge Street / Court Street

The info collected will be used to assess traffic conditions for the WBR project

Next steps

The detailed design for the project continues to be developed based on the important archaeological investigations, archival recording and environmental monitoring activities to meet our conditions of approval.

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