John Fo­ord Bridge re­pairs a pri­or­ity

The Free Press (Corowa) - - FRONT PAGE - BY JARED LOUGHNAN

The Mur­ray River Cross­ing In­vest­ment Pri­or­ity As­sess­ment re­port shows an eval­u­a­tion of 32 cross­ings along the Mur­ray River which as­sists in in­form­ing and pri­ori­tis­ing the fu­ture in­vest­ment de­ci­sions for cross­ings ac­cord­ing to each of the as­sets rel­a­tive rank­ing.

The John Fo­ord Bridge was ranked third in pri­or­ity be­hind the Too­ley­buc and Swan Hill bridges. All three bridges were rec­om­mended as a short term pri­or­ity and were con­sid­ered high pri­or­ity and iden­ti­fied for im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion within five years.

The re­port states that the 122-year-old John Fo­ord Bridge, which is her­itage listed as NSW State sig­nif­i­cant and on the Vic­to­rian State Reg­is­ter, be re­tained for lo­cal traf­fic.

An as­set main­te­nance plan for the bridge high­lights re­paint­ing of the steel lat­tice span and re­place­ment of the tim­ber ap­proach spans and tim­ber piers.

The cri­te­ria used to rank the cross­ings was based on Higher Mass Lim­its con­nec­tiv­ity, road safety, per­for­mance and as­set re­li­a­bil­ity, con­di­tion of the bridge, prox­im­ity to the near­est al­ter­nate cross­ing and ded­i­cated fa­cil­i­ties for pedes­tri­ans and cy­clists (for twin towns).

A new re­place­ment Yar­ra­wonga Mul­wala bridge was ranked fur­ther down the list as a

A new re­port pre­pared by RMS and VicRoads has short­listed the John Fo­ord Bridge con­nect­ing Corowa and Wah­gun­yah for in­vest­ment.

“mid-term pri­or­ity” where in­vest­ment is only aimed at plan­ning for growth and likely to be only re­quired within five to 10 years.

Moira and Fed­er­a­tion Shire Coun­cils have ex­pressed their con­cerns about the lower pri­or­ity rat­ing for the Yar­ra­wonga Mul­wala bridge.

Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil Gen­eral Man­ager Adrian But­ler said that Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil is very con­cerned that the Yar­ra­wonga Mul­wala bridge has been listed as only a medium term pri­or­ity given the im­pend­ing clo­sure of the weir bridge in 2020 and the re­sult­ing ex­tra traf­fic, in par­tic­u­lar heavy ve­hi­cles, on the ex­ist­ing sub­stan­dard bridge.

“Whilst the John Fo­ord Bridge at Corowa Wah­gun­yah is listed as a short term pri­or­ity, po­ten­tially above the Yar­ra­wonga Mul­wala cross­ing, the re­port needs to be in­ter­preted in con­text and the works rec­om­mended are only rel­a­tively mi­nor in com­par­i­son to the to­tal re­place­ment for Yar­ra­wonga Mul­wala,” Mr But­ler said.

At its monthly meet­ing yes­ter­day, Septem­ber 18, Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil agreed to en­gage with VicRoads, and Roads and Mar­itime Ser­vices NSW re­gard­ing the sub­stan­tially re­duced pri­or­ity.

Coun­cil agreed to also un­der­take an es­ti­mated $30,000 cost to sur­vey the Mul­wala com­mu­nity, to de­ter­mine their pre­ferred bridge align­ment for the cross­ing into Yar­ra­wonga.

Both Fed­er­a­tion and Moira Shire Coun­cil chiefs also ex­pressed their dis­ap­point­ment of the stake­holder en­gage­ment process of the re­port com­mis­sioned by the road au­thor­i­ties to high end con­sul­tants Deloitte and SMEC.

“RMS made con­tact with Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil to out­line that a re­port had been com­pleted, but to date coun­cil have not been asked to pro­vide in­put or be con­sulted with in re­gards to any of the as­sess­ments,” Mr But­ler said.

“Coun­cil hopes that the Yar­ra­won­gaMul­wala bridge re­place­ment pri­or­ity can be in­creased to more ac­cu­rately re­flect the con­straints of the cur­rent bridge, the growth of the area, and the cur­rent and fu­ture freight task,” he said.

Moira Shire Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Mark Hen­der­son said the re­port is “quite nar­row” in its scope and should be used for its ini­tial pur­pose, which was to guide scarce bridge main­te­nance fund­ing.

“Pub­lish­ing it as a bridge re­place­ment pri­or­ity doc­u­ment with­out any chance for com­mu­nity en­gage­ment to­tally ig­nores the pop­u­la­tion and freight growth the bridge will need to cope with over its life,” Mr Hen­der­son said.

Re­pairs to John Fo­ord Bridge is listed as a pri­or­ity.

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