Construction of a new higher, wider Fitzgerald Bridge just outside Aberdeen has commenced, some 120 years after the existing one was first erected.
Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said the new fully-Federally funded bridge over the Hunter River 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.
“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 new bridge is expected to be up and open to the 8,500 vehicles that use this route daily by early next year.
“It 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 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.