A procession of classic cars marked the opening of the new multi-million dollar Tyrone Bridge replacement near Bodalla on Friday.
Local residents, farmers and emergency services crews joined Bega MP Andrew Constance, Eurobodalla Shire Mayor Liz Innes and Wagonga Local Aboriginal Land Council chair Vivienne Mason for a ribbon cutting and smoking ceremony on June 15.
The event marked the completion of the $2.5 million project, located at the junction of Eurobodalla Road and Nerrigundah Mountain Road, about nine kilometres west of Bodalla.
Mr Constance said the joint project, funded through the federal government’s Bridges Renewal Program and NSW Government’s Fixing Country Roads commitment, was a boost for local farmers, emergency services and residents.
“(The bridge) gives more certainty, assurity and security for residents, but also the big benefit in terms of emergency services – it makes it easier to make decisions in relation to road closures,” Mr Constance said.
“Timber structures are very difficult to manage during storm events and having a concrete structure like this with the pylons in place just provides greater certainty.”
Mr Constance said the bridge was one of the busiest freight corridors in the shire, providing a vital linkage point for farmers to get product to market.
“When the (old) bridge was taken out, people needed to drive 20 km to get around it,” he said.
“(The new bridge) is much safer for everyone concerned. It’s great for our dairy farmers who have had to dump milk during flood events.”
The council’s infrastructure director, Warren Sharpe, said the bridge would improve safety and eliminate the risk for dairy tankers crossing the bridge during floods and storms.
“With an old timber structure, with the water lapping at the deck and not being able to see what is actually happening under the water with debris, it’s a really big call to let a milk tanker across that bridge,” Mr Sharpe said.
“Of course, we want to do that so farmers don’t drop milk on the ground. This structure gives us a huge amount of additional confidence and takes away some of that risk.”
Helping mark the opening were members of the Eurobodalla Classic and Vintage Motor Club, who led a procession of historic vehicles across the bridge.
The Tuross River crossing supports 250 vehicles each day and provides vital transport links to the Eurobodalla’s dairy farms, quarries and forestry, as well as properties around Nerrigundah and Belowra.
The project involved the replacement of the original wooden bridge with a single-lane concrete structure, measuring 86 metres long and 2.1 metres higher than the previous bridge.
The new structure is expected to improve freight access to the region accommodating trucks weighing up to 50 tonnes, as opposed to the previous five-tonne limit.