More than $30 million is being invested in the Clarence Valley to replace several timber bridges throughout the region.
With many of the 31 structures built between 70 and 80 years ago, the time has come to replace them with stronger, concrete bridges which will provide safer travel routes for visitors and the local community, withstand floodwaters and save ratepayers ongoing costs of maintenance and repairs.
The bridges will be replaced as part of the Nationals in Government’s $500 million Fixing Country Bridges Program.
The announcement was made by Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis on February 22, who described the news as great for the Clarence electorate.
“The Nationals are fighting for everything we can in the bush, and this is a terrific announcement because a lot of the timber bridges which will be replaced are reaching the end of their lifespans and the new, modern structures which will replace them will make travelling on the roads much safer for everyone,” he said.
Mr Gulaptis also said aging timber bridges are a significant burden on council.
Clarence Valley Council has 125 timber bridges and the opportunity to replace 31 of them will significantly reduce bridge maintenance backlog.
Mr Gulaptis’s words were emphasised by CVC Mayor Jim Simmons and General Manager Ashley Lindsay, who agreed the announcement is also extremely beneficial for the local economy with construction of the new bridges set to create several employment opportunities.
“It’s also a significant economic boost for council and the community,” Mr Lindsay added.
Two of the timber bridges scheduled to be replaced are on Armidale Road, north of the rural village of Coutts Crossing and stretch across the Orara Floodway.
As he gestured towards the northmost bridge following the announcement, Mr Lindsay revealed the structure requires $400,000 worth of maintenance “just to keep it up to standard.”
Both bridges would cost a combined $8.4 million to fix.
“The fact that this timber bridge is going to be replaced by a concrete bridge saves our ratepayers $400,000,” he said.
“Armidale Road is a significant regional road, and a lot of traffic and large vehicles use it and its also subject to flooding, so it’s important that the bridges are able to withstand those conditions.”
Lower Kangaroo Creek resident Teddy Bowles travels across the two timber bridges north of Coutts Crossing on a regular basis, sometimes daily.
She welcomed the announcement last week and said she was “very happy” the bridges are being replaced by sturdier structures.
“I think Chris does a marvellous job and it’s a good thing the bridges are being replaced,” she said.
While the new bridges are set to be delivered by June 30, 2023, Mr Lindsay revealed construction would take place outside of the main flooding periods during the year, with the winter months mentioned as being the better times.