The New South Wales Government will replace more than 400 timber bridges through its $500 million Fixing Country Bridges program, to improve resilience to natural disaster and increase connectivity.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the NSW Government is meeting its election commitment to replace ageing structures with safer, modern bridges that will better withstand events like floods and bushfires, easing the burden of maintenance for local councils and ratepayers and build a safer, stronger regional NSW.
“Last year was one of the most challenging years’ regional communities have faced due to COVID-19, summer bushfires and drought – and that’s before heavy rains hit some areas,” Barilaro said.
“I’m thrilled to see these bridges get underway, it’s an election commitment we promised and are delivering on. The bridges will help create new jobs, drive economic growth and deliver lifestyle improvements for generations to come.”
Regional Transport and Roads Minister Paul Toole said the NSW Government had accelerated funding for the program with more than $290 million shared across 54 councils to replace 424 bridges in round one.
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“That’s hundreds of fast-tracked projects that will start across the state in the next 12 months, helping councils to create and support jobs, drive productivity and keep our regional communities connected,” Toole said.
“This unprecedented funding commitment to replace NSW’s worst timber bridges builds on the $500 million we’re investing through Fixing Local Roads to deliver better journeys on the roads our regional communities use every day.
“Together this $1 billion investment will ensure a safe, modern and more resilient road and bridge network for the bush that will serve generations to come.”
Member for Upper Hunter Michael Johnsen said replacing old timber bridges means improved community connections to schools, towns and jobs, allowing easier movement of freight and delivering better outcomes for road safety.
“On top of easing the financial burden on councils, this program will create thousands of local jobs right throughout regional communities at a time when they’re needed most,” Johnsen said.
“I’m glad that in the Dungog Local Government Area alone, we’re going to see 23 bridges replaced under this new round of funding because I know what a difference they’ll make to entire communities.”
NSW Farmers President James Jackson said timber bridges have served the farming community well over many years.
“However, with weight and width restrictions they are now acting as a barrier to efficient freight movement,” Jackson said.
“NSW Farmers welcomes this important announcement by the NSW Government. It’s one that recognises the value of improving access to local food and fibre production and regional communities.”