Oaklands CWA has welcomed the instalment of an accessibility ram and rails to the entrance of the building.
But John Foord upgrade first
The route known as ‘the green route’ – near and in parallel to the railway line - appears set to be the one confirmed for the new Yarrawonga Mulwala Traffic Bridge across Lake Mulwala.
Transport for NSW will advise both the NSW and Victorian Governments of the outcome of its consultation with the Yarrawonga Mulwala community and will seek endorsement for the now preferred option. Endorsement is expected to be a mere formality.
“The community will be informed once a clear path forward is formed and funding for the construction of a new structure has been secured,” NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway said on December 23.
“The preferred route for a new crossing over the Murray River is one step closer following the release of a community feedback summary report.
“The ‘Green’ route will now be confirmed with the NSW and Victorian Governments after community consultation to better understand the community’s preference.”
The ‘Grey’ route – along Irvine Parade to cross the lake at the Yarrawonga Mulwala Visitor Information Centre - was decided as the preferred route in 2015 by the NSW and Victorian Governments after both states’ road authorities recommendations. Neither route involves Yarrawonga’s main street, Belmore Street.
But the John Foord bridge will receive priority for funding before the Mulwala crossing as NSW and Victorian governments stick to the Murray River Crossings Investment Prioritisation Assessment to help inform and prioritise future investment decisions by ranking each crossing over the Murray River.
The 2018 assessment reviewed 32 bridge and ferry assets and considered freight connectivity, road safety, reliability, condition, proximity to alternate crossings and pedestrian and cyclist facilities.
Mulwala Bridge was ranked eighth highest priority for investment, behind Swan Hill, Tooleybuc, Abbotsford, John Foord, Murrabit, Towong and George Chaffey bridges.
Transport for NSW received 285 comments/submissions during the yarrawonga Mulwala bridge consultation from 15 June to 30 July, 2021 which focused on issues including requests to retain the existing bridge, concerns about trucks on Belmore Street and planning for future population growth and development. 74% of respondents were for the green route.
Timeframes for design and construction of the new bridge are yet to be determined and depend on budget allocation according to Transport for NSW who expect the time to be between five and 10 years as per the Murray River crossings investment prioritisation assessment.
The Federal Government has indicated a 40% contribution towards the bridge’s construction similar to Echuca’s new crossing.
Member for Albury Justin Clancy said the expected outcome would be very welcomed by the two border towns, Federation Council, Moira Shire Council and Mulwala Progress Association.
“The ‘green’ route has had widespread support for some time, now the community has certainty that both state governments also support this alignment and we’re excited to see the bridge a significant step closer to becoming a reality,” he said.
“This route will cater for growing communities on both sides and will create a more accessible crossing of Lake Mulwala for the local community and freight operators.
“Mulwala Bridge has been a vital transport link between the twin towns of Mulwala in NSW and Yarrawonga in Victoria since it was built in 1924.”
“End of its serviceable life”
Government authorities have held steadfast in their aim to demolish the iconic near century old Yarrawonga Mulwala bridge once a new crossing is built.
Despite many supporters of the ‘green’ route requesting the current bridge be retained Transport NSW made it very clear the existing bridge will be demolished in the Mulwala Bridge community consultation summary report released in December 2021.
“The existing structure has reached the end of its serviceable life and will be replaced by a bridge on either the ‘grey’ or ‘green’ route,” Transport for NSW stated in the report.
“Constructed in 1924, the existing Mulwala Bridge has reached the end of its serviceable life and needs to be replaced, to ensure a safe and serviceable structure that meets the community’s current and future needs.
“When construction of the new bridge is complete, the current bridge will be demolished.”
The report goes on to state that authorities will continue to “build community awareness and understanding of the need to remove the current bridge”.
“Transport will work with the community to find a way to recognise its historic significance in an appropriate way.”
Essential maintenance work on the crossing was completed in 2021.
The $3.45 million maintenance works included repairing a damaged steel support structure, an upgrade of the barrier rails and pedestrian footpath and resurfacing the road on the Mulwala side approach.