Published on 15 September 2023
Following the opening of the new Oaky Creek Bridge, Kempsey Shire Council has achieved a significant milestone in its mission to enhance the safety and efficiency of local roads and bridges by announcing the successful replacement of 33 timber bridges with concrete upgrades.
Council is responsible for the upkeep of an extensive network of 1,259 kilometres of roads (equal to the distance between Kempsey and Melbourne) including 4,025 meters of bridge crossings which play a pivotal role in facilitating everyday life for residents and businesses alike.
In response to the challenges posed by natural disasters in 2019 and 2020, which left many bridges damaged or destroyed, Council embarked on an ambitious initiative. The goal was to replace a total of 56 timber bridges in the Macleay Valley with robust and durable concrete structures, designed to withstand the test of time and accommodate larger loads.
The impressive project has been made possible through the support of the NSW Government's Fixing Country Bridges program. Out of the total budget of $25.1 million, $14.2 million has been utilised, with the majority stemming from the Fixing Country Bridges grant, supplemented by a $0.9 million Federal Bridge Replacement Program grant. The remaining balance has been contributed by Council.
The tireless efforts of Council's Bridge Team have been instrumental in constructing 21 of the 33 completed structures, while skilled contractors have successfully completed the remaining 12.
The project, which commenced in 2021, continues apace, with Council's dedicated team currently engaged in the reconstruction of three bridges, while contractors are simultaneously working on three others.
With this significant milestone achieved, Kempsey Shire Council remains firmly committed to completing the remaining 21 bridges at an ambitious rate of 4-6 bridges per month, extending through to the end of 2023. Potential delays may still arise due to factors such as sourcing materials, staffing, contractor availability, and weather conditions.
These completed bridges represent a crucial step forward in enhancing the region's infrastructure and improving the lives of residents in the Macleay Valley and are a testament to Council's dedication to providing vital infrastructure to the community.