Nelmac Pty Ltd has been selected to erect the new higher and wider Fitzgerald Bridge over the Hunter River just outside Aberdeen, with construction to start next month and be completed by early 2014.
Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said the new fully-Federally funded bridge will open up the New England Highway to bigger, heavier vehicles, providing truck drivers with a shorter, quicker route between the Hunter and the Darling Downs.
“The $28 million replacement can’t come soon enough,” said Mr Albanese.
“The existing Fitzgerald Bridge is in fact two bridges, the first of which was erected in 1893 and currently carries southbound traffic, while the second, built almost a century later in 1986, is used by northbound traffic.
“This project is part of the broader capital works program we initiated upon coming to office in late 2007 and which has strengthened and rebuilt bridges across the country – an initiative that’s opened up more of the nation’s road network to heavy vehicles.
“In the years ahead, the trucking industry will also benefit from the unprecedented investment we’re making in our highways as well as the 2013 introduction of one set of nationwide heavy vehicle laws administered by a single national regulator.”
NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay said the Fitzgerald Bridge is an important link, used by 8,500 vehicles a day.
“The new bridge will be erected to the west of the existing bridges and have one lane in each direction,” said Mr Gay.
“In recent years, we’ve been progressively allowed bigger trucks to use certain major roads and arteries within NSW, and this new bridge near Aberdeen will open up the Highway to these types of heavy vehicles.”
Originally known as the Great Northern Road, the New England Highway follows the route set down by NSW Surveyor-General John Oxley in 1818 and renowned botanist Allan Cunningham in 1827 and 1828. It passes through many historic towns including Tamworth – the first locality in Australia to install electric street lighting – and the birthplace of Federation, Tenterfield.