Community News

McFarlane Bridge restoration reaches final stages

Roads and Maritime has announced work to repair and strengthen the wrought iron tower and lift span truss on the McFarlane Bridge is reaching its final stages and on track for completion in the next few weeks, weather permitting. “For almost 110 years the McFarlane Bridge has provided an important route connecting the communities of Maclean and Woodford Island. Prior to the construction of the bridge, the community relied on a ferry service to access Woodford Island,” a Roads and Maritime Services spokesperson said. “The bridge was built by Mountney and Company, which won the tender for £11,732. Officially opened in April 1906, the bridge was named after Mr John McFarlane, the local member for Clarence who secured funding for the crossing. “An important heritage icon to Maclean, the McFarlane Bridge is one of only three bridges in NSW with rolling counterweights and bascule lift span. The other two examples are the Glebe Bridge at Coraki and the Carrathool Bridge over the Murrumbidgee River in south western NSW. “The bridge design was considered significant at the time as it was a phase of adoption of American bridge design technology. Before this time British or Australian technology was implemented. “The McFarlane Bridge has two rolling counterweights that roll down a curved track to open the lift span. The bridge can no longer open as the 14 tonne counterweights have been replaced with hollow drum replicas to preserve the heritage significance of the bridge. All gearing at the top of the tower remains part of the original bridge features. “Due to the age and heritage significance of the bridge, increased maintenance is required to ensure it is safe and can be used by heavy vehicles. “An assessment identified work needed to be carried out in order to improve the strength of the bridge to meet current design standards. “Starting in 2011, stage one work involved strengthening and replacing the timber approach spans. In August last year stage two work started, which involved repairing and strengthening the wrought iron tower and lift span truss. “The 40 tonne tower was removed with a 180 tonne crane on a barge in October 2015. The tower was transported via the river and restored at Roads and Maritime’s dry dock facility in Ashby. “By removing the tower and restoring it offsite, the team was able to reduce the work time by at least a year as well as avoid further inconvenience to the community. “As part of this work the lift span truss was also strengthened to meet current design standards, meaning the bridge can now better handle heavy vehicle loads. It will also ensure the longevity of the bridge.” “Stage three of bridge strengthening will include minor work to the piers and will be carried out after completion of stage two. The pier work is important as it will significantly reduce the amount of maintenance required on the bridge in the future. “This work will be carried out under the bridge with little impact to traffic. Any restrictions in the waterway or impacts to traffic will be provided to the community ahead of time. “One of the ways Roads and Maritime Services has kept residents informed of each closure is via an email and SMS alert system. “Feedback is always encouraged to help plan for similar projects across the region. To provide feedback please complete the survey online located on the project website mcfarlanebridge,” the spokesperson said. Roads and Maritime appreciates the patience from the community while this essential maintenance has taken place. For more information visit