NSW councils praised for replacing bridges with an eye to safety

Efforts by NSW councils to incorporate improved freight access into road safety and disaster recovery works have been lauded by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.

NHVR stakeholder manager (NSW) Tim Hansen said several road managers across NSW were taking an innovative approach to improved freight routes as part of their road safety programs.

“In the case of Eurobodalla Shire Council, a resilient road network and improvements to freight routes have become part of their recovery from the floods and bushfires that have impacted the south coast of NSW over the past 12 months,” Mr Hansen said.

“The planning and work of the local council is resulting in a win for road safety and improvements to infrastructure, which have opened up access to freight routes.”

Eurobodalla Shire Council director of infrastructure services, and Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia (NSW) president Warren Sharpe said the devastating bushfires last November partially or fully damaged 18 timber bridges in the area.

“Rather than just replace a single lane wooden bridge with a single lane concrete bridge – which the funding allowed – we’ve looked at the entire route,” Warren said.

“That meant identifying vulnerable points or load-limiting structures, and where funding was available, we were able to make improvements that benefit both safety and productivity.

“An example in this area is some of the routes out the back of Bodalla, into the dairy country, the forestry and agricultural country, which will be a fully concrete bridge route from the middle of next year.

“On other routes where we might have to replace a structure or two we’ve been able to work with Transport for NSW or the Federal Government to replace or improve other bridge structures.”

The Council released its Eurobodalla Road Safety Plan 2019-22 last year, providing a blueprint for ongoing planning and investment in the region’s road network.

“We know that 47 percent of crashes are occurring on nine percent of the network where freight and commuter traffic are continuing to grow,” Warren said.

“Our plan outlines the actions we can take as a council to move towards safe roads, safe people, safe vehicles and safe speeds, within the limits of our responsibility.”