6 May 2024

New bridge for Wagga choke-point by 2027

| Chris Roe
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Wagga MP Dr Joe McGirr has confirmed that work will soon start on replacing Marshalls Creek Bridge. Photo: Supplied.

Back in the 1990s, a famous shampoo commercial offered the slow-burn promise “it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen”, and it seems that same message can be applied to the long-promised upgrade of Wagga’s Marshalls Creek Bridge.

“Early works I think will start mid-2025. The construction is going to take a bit longer than originally thought – it should be finished in 2027,” announced Wagga’s Independent MP Dr Joe McGirr in a video update on the weekend.

“You’ll get the information in your letter boxes. This $30 million four-lane bridge is such an important part of safety upgrades for our community.”

Locals have long advocated for a widening of the Marshalls Creek crossing to ease congestion at this antiquated pinch-point on Hammond Avenue that forms part of the busy Sturt Highway.

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Transport for NSW notes that around 21,000 vehicles travel across the bridge each day and confirmed that planning is now underway for a wider, longer bridge.

In 2021, the previous coalition government released a design and timeline that forecast a start to construction in late 2022 and a completed bridge by mid-2024.

The project soon stalled amid rising construction costs and budget blowouts and was briefly shelved by Labor in 2023 in favour of upgrades to the Olympic Highway on either side of the Gobbagombalin Bridge.

In July last year, freshly minted Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Jenny Aitchison responded to community feedback and agreed to prioritise Marshalls Creek Bridge.

According to the new timeline outlined in the fliers being distributed this week, they are “currently working to complete utility design and relocation work before we engage a contractor to build the new bridge”.

The concept remains the same but the timeline has blown out from 2024 to 2027. Photo: Supplied.

A spokesperson for Transport for NSW confirmed that “the NSW Government has provided $30 million for the widening of the bridge, to help provide safer and efficient journeys in Wagga Wagga”.

“Utility design, informed by recent investigations, is being carried out and involves planning for utility lines to be moved to new, safe, and compliant locations outside of the construction footprint,” they said.

“The next step will be to begin the complex task of moving gas and electricity, and protecting telecommunication and optic fibre, to allow for major construction work to begin.”

The concept design is identical to the one released in 2021 and reiterates that the “replacement bridge will be 30 metres long and 25.3 metres wide including four 3.5-metre-wide traffic lanes, two 2.5-metre-wide shoulders, a 3-metre-wide shared path on the southern side of the bridge and a 1.8-metre-wide footpath on the northern side of the bridge”.

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The project will be put out to tender in “spring 2024” with the contract to be awarded in “autumn 2025”. Construction is predicted to begin in “winter 2025” with completion expected two years later in “winter 2027”.

It’s anticipated that there may be up to 15 weekend closures required to allow for the safe demolition of the old bridge and construction of the new bridge.

“Transport for NSW is committed to ensuring the bridge remains accessible to motorists and impacts are minimised where possible,” the spokesperson said.

“For this reason, work is being scheduled across two years to ensure we can maintain two lanes of traffic across the bridge on weekdays during peak periods and weekend closures are limited.”

Watch this space.

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