Weir bridge to close in October
The Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), Transport for NSW and Regional Roads Victoria have confirmed the date of the weir crossing closure after extended delays due to COVID-19 and maintenance works on the Yarrawonga Mulwala Bridge.
MDBA head of river management Andrew Reynolds said the crossing was being closed to regular traffic to ensure the ongoing safety of weir workers and to protect the integrity of the structure as an essential component of water management on the River Murray.
“It’s certainly the end of an era, as the crossing has been an important part of the region’s history since the weir was opened in 1939,” Mr Reynolds said.
“However, first and foremost the weir controls the flow of water in the river and enables reliable supply to communities along the Murray as well as irrigators connected to the Yarrawonga Main Channel in Victoria and the Mulwala Canal in New South Wales.
“Closure of the weir bridge will mean people wishing to drive across the river between New South Wales and Victoria will need to use the main bridge that connects the Yarrawonga and Mulwala communities.
“The MDBA first announced in 2000 that the weir bridge was set to close in 2020. We have been working in collaboration with Transport for NSW and Regional Roads Victoria to limit as far as possible the impact of the closure.”
Moira Shire Council has expressed concerns over the resultant increased traffic in Belmore Street because of a weir bridge closure.
The shire has cited safety concerns and negative impacts on retail and tourism trade as a result of more heavy vehicles needing to travel down Belmore Street. There is no feasible alternative for trucks as Belmore Street is the only declared State Highway route.
Department of Transport Hume Region Director, Steve Bowmaker, said the MDBA’s commitment to working cooperatively with the state road agencies to select a closing date had assisted with planning for the changes.
“This change will affect traffic patterns as road users come to rely on the Yarrawonga Mulwala Bridge as the sole means of driving across the river,” Mr Bowmaker said.
“Importantly, people will still be able to walk or ride their bikes across the weir.
“We’re glad that finally, we can confirm the date of closure to ensure motorists, businesses, and local residents can plan for the change.”
On average, 1500 crossings of the weir are made each day, compared with 8200 crossings of the Yarrawonga Mulwala Bridge (preCOVID figures).
Transport for NSW Regional Director South, Sam Knight, said initially closure was expected in 2020 and was postponed to allow for maintenance work by Transport for NSW on the Yarrawonga Mulwala Bridge.
“COVID restrictions during the past 18 months have further disrupted and extended this maintenance program, however work to repair the bridge’s steel truss and upgrades to traffic and pedestrian barriers were completed last week, well ahead of schedule.
“The final component for this phase of work, which is jointly funded by Regional Roads Victoria, is line marking. This is due to be finalised in mid-August, weather permitting.
“Transport and Regional Roads Victoria will continue to work closely with the MDBA following the weir closure to ensure the structure will be able to be used during future planned maintenance closures of the Yarrawonga Mulwala Bridge.”
Meanwhile the results of a survey held in July where locals were asked for feedback to help determine the preferred alignment for a new bridge crossing over Lake Mulwala has yet to be released.
After more than 20 years since authorities first warned of a closing of the weir bridge to vehicle traffic a date was finally confirmed last week for October 15.