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NSW bridge route trigger

Mulwala Progress Association President Robert Purtle, NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway, local Member for Albury Justin Clancy and Federation Council Mayor Pat Bourke talk about a new replacement bridge for Yarrawonga Mulwala last Thursday.

A definitive decision from the NSW government on a preferred route for a new replacement bridge for Yarrawonga Mulwala will be made within two weeks, which is hoped to be the trigger to advance government funding commitments and elevate its priority for construction.

NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway made it very clear during a visit to Mulwala last Thursday that he wants to have a direction from the NSW Government on the route before a planned meeting with Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport Catherine King this month.

Accompanied by local Member for Albury Justin Clancy, Minister Farraway inspected the 1924 built bridge with council representatives and members of the Mulwala Progress Association.

Minister Farraway said it would be a three-step process to have the new replacement bridge advanced.

Yarrawonga Green Route committee member John Lawless, NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway, Federation Council Mayor Pat Bourke, local Member for Albury Justin Clancy and Mulwala Progress Association President Robert Purtle in front of the 1924 built bridge last Thursday.

“The first step is to have a clear direction on the route from the NSW Government before my planned meeting with Catherine King,” he told the Yarrawonga Chronicle.

“This will then trigger the next step with Catherine King to get the interest as a new federal government and understanding the importance of this infrastructure and cross-border topic.

“Then we look at how we fund it with the federal and two state governments. And look at the grading of the bridge’s (replacement) priority.

“This is a lengthy process which Transport NSW are in the middle of now, I would hope to see it go higher up the list.”

In 2018, the NSW and Victorian governments carried out the Murray River Crossings Investment Prioritisation Assessment to help inform and prioritise future investment decisions by ranking each crossing over the Murray River with a new Yarrawonga Mulwala crossing ranked 8th with a 5-10 year investment target.

Minister Farraway acknowledged the importance of a new crossing in Yarrawonga Mulwala highlighting the growth of the cross-border towns, the importance of the bridge for tourism and business in particular the Thales munitions facility and the current high number of daily traffic movements across the existing bridge.

Local Member for Albury Justin Clancy said he was pleased to be able to bring the minister to Mulwala to take a closer look at the bridge and listen to members of the community.

“I have been working hard on this for a long time, the community needs a decision. We need to give them certainty going forward,” Mr Clancy said.

Federation Council have continued to push for a new Yarrawonga Mulwala bridge crossing to be escalated to the highest priority as part of a review of the Murray River Crossings Investment Assessment.

Minister Farraway’s visit followed a formal letter by Federation Council sent to Transport for NSW in May highlighting the growing number of daily traffic movements across the existing, near 100-year old bridge.

Council ‘s highlighted that over a six day period in May (one of the quieter months of the year) there were 9,300 traffic movements across the bridge per day.

Mayor Bourke welcomed the visit from Mr Farraway to Mulwala and thanked Member for Albury Justin Clancy for his assistance in coordinating the meeting.

"Council has serious concerns in respect to the reliability, condition, safety and proximity to alternate crossings and pedestrian and cyclist facilities with the current bridge and we made this known to Minister Farraway," he said.

"Council requests that urgent consideration is given to increase the priority of this bridge replacement due to our serious concerns, also shared frequently by our community and other road users.

“Recent traffic counts show a growing number of traffic movements daily over the bridge.

“With both Federation and Moira councils experiencing high levels of growth within our townships, traffic is only expected to continue to increase as we experience unprecedented residential and industrial growth.

“Both state governments need to ensure this growth is supported by the delivery of a new bridge."

Mayor Bourke said council also appreciated the opportunity to raise concerns about council's deteriorating rural road network directly to the minister and advocate the importance of state and federal funding injections into regional LGAs such as Federation Council.

Transport for NSW, who in partnership with Victoria’s Department of Transport, is investigating opportunities to improve the 32 Murray River crossings and council wants the attention directed to the Yarrawonga Mulwala crossing.

No final confirmation of the green route for a new Yarrawonga Mulwala bridge crossing by either the NSW or Victorian state governments in the meantime has frustrated members of the Green Route Committee but Minister’s Farraway’s visit have given the group renewed hope.

“It was very frustrating not being able to get confirmation of the route so far this year after we were told last December, that following the results of the community survey last year, the green route would be selected,” committee member John Lawless said.

“We now look forward to the minister’s route confirmation in the next couple of weeks and are confident it will be green.

“Then we can move forward in getting the Victorian and Federal governments on board, commit funding and build the much-needed new crossing for the community sooner rather than later.”