Roads and Maritime Services (formerly Roads and Traffic Authority) is developing a new bridge over the Hunter River at Aberdeen.
The new bridge is being built to allow access for higher mass limit vehicles between Muswellbrook and Tamworth.
Since 2006, higher mass limit routes have been approved on specified roads in NSW to increase productivity of road freight transport.
This project is funded by the Australian Government.
The Fitzgerald Bridger over the Hunter River is located on the New England Highway, Aberdeen, 13 kilometres north of Muswellbrook. The existing crossing consists of two separate structures for north and southbound traffic flow.
The bridges form part of the National Land Transport Network and are used by local and interstate travellers and the transport industry, with an average of 8,500 vehicles using the crossings daily.
The southbound bridge is a metal lattice truss bridge, built in 1893. The bridge has a carriageway width of 5.7 metres, which is too narrow compared to the minimum width required for a higher mass limit routes. The steel truss spans are also structurally inadequate for the higher mass limits on the network.
The bridge has heritage significance and will be retained for pedestrians and cyclists.
The northbound bridge is adjacent to the heritage bridge on the western side. Built in 1986, the bridge has a carriageway width of 5.5 metres with a 1.9 metre wide footway. The bridge is suitable for one lane and would require a major upgrade and maintenance to achieve a two lane standard (which is not feasible).
The new bridge and road approaches will be to the west of the existing northbound structure. Once construction is complete, the 9.4 metre wide bridge will be permanently used for two way traffic, providing for a single lane of traffic in each direction.
The existing southbound heritage bridge will be retained for pedestrians and cyclists, and the existing northbound bridge will be demolished on completion of the new bridge. The project will also upgrade intersections of the New England Highway both Blairemore Lane and the golf club entrance.
The new bridge approaches will be about one metre higher than the current bridge deck surface level, to maintain clearance for flooding. A new concrete pathway will be provided under the bridges to link the western side of the bridges to the old southbound bridge for pedestrian and cyclist access.
- The new bridge will facilitate a higher mass limit route between Muswellbrook and Tamworth.
- The serviceability and design life of the new bridge structure will be 100 years, including flood immunity up to the one in a 100 year flood event.
- The design has been developed to minimise environmental impacts. The clearance between the northbound bridge and new bridge has been reduced after considering impacts to adjacent private properties, parkland and the potential archaeological deposits to the north of the Hunter River.
- The piers of the new bridge will be aligned with those of the existing heritage bridge to help facilitate use of the river by kayakers and local community groups.
- Cyclists and pedestrian safety will be improved.