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Page MP Kevin Hogan, bridge contractor Nathan, Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis and Clarence Valley’s mayor, Jim Simmons, move the ‘road closed ahead’ barrier to mark the opening of the new Romiaka Channel Bridge to traffic. Image: Geoff Helisma

At last: Romiaka Channel Bridge opens

Geoff Helisma | Motorists who regularly travel to and from Yamba will no doubt be pleased that the new bridge crossing Romiaka Channel was opened to traffic on Friday November 2. The bridge’s construction was completed four months behind schedule. Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan, Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis and the mayor, Jim Simmons, officially opened the bridge. “Motorists travelling to Yamba, Angourie and Wooloweyah will now have a safer and quicker journey following today’s opening of the new $3.46 million Romiaka Channel Bridge,” the MPs said in a joint media release. “The replacement of this bridge has been a high priority for Clarence Valley Council (CVC) due to its narrow width and poor condition,” Mr Hogan said. “They came to me asking for help to fund a new bridge.” Mr Gulaptis said the old bridge was at risk of having a 20-tonne weight limit imposed. “Being the only access road to Yamba, that would have impacted local freight movements and local businesses, adding tens of thousands of extra heavy vehicle movements to the road as larger loads were split to smaller trucks.” The Australian and NSW governments each contributed $1.73million towards the estimated $3,901,736 project, including a 10 per cent contingency of $293,844. Clarence Valley Council contributed $439,736. NSW Public Work’s charged $229,451 (upper limit) to manage the project. The federal and state funding was granted through the Bridges Renewal and Restart NSW Fixing Country Roads programs, respectively. “Vehicles will now be able to pass safely, pedestrians and cyclists are separated from traffic with a dedicated shared path, and the longevity of the bridge has been secured,” Mr Hogan said. Mayor Simmons said the “support of the state and federal governments was instrumental in getting this project off the ground”. “The old Romiaka bridge had served the community well but age and increased traffic volumes had taken their toll,” he said. In March this year, motorists noticed that work had stalled on the bridge. Clarence Valley Council advised at the time that a “number of contributing factors” were responsible for the slow progress. “[There were] some complications in obtaining required approvals [and] finalising the design,” CVC said. “[Including] the uncovering of a midden on the site and some difficulty in obtaining some major components (such as piles) to the required standard.” In June, motorists were angered by a dip that developed on the western approach to the old bridge, some alleging their cars were damaged as a result – CVC subsequently repaired the approaches to the bridge. At that time, CVC said, “Any required budget adjustments will be reported to council as needed.” None, however, have been reported to council.