Delay on bridge route confirmation

In 2021 $3.45 million of maintenance works was spent on the current bridge crossing buying time for a new bridge to be built hopefully within in the next decade.

It seems there is no quick confirmation of the preferred route across Lake Mulwala for the new Yarrawonga Mulwala Traffic Bridge.

After three requests by the Yarrawonga Chronicle as to whether a decision has been made, a response was received last Wednesday from a Transport for NSW spokesperson, as hereunder.

“Transport for NSW sought community feedback on the Grey and Green options for a new Yarrawonga-Mulwala crossing in mid-2021 to understand current community sentiment and to better appreciate community issues and values.

“Transport for NSW has used this feedback to understand the diverse range of opinions and interests and will use this information to assist in determining the preferred route.”

The route known as ‘the green route’ – near and in parallel to the railway line – still appears set to be the likely one confirmed for the new Yarrawonga Mulwala Traffic Bridge across Lake Mulwala.

As reported in the Chronicle in early January Transport for NSW advised both the NSW and Victorian Governments of the outcome of its consultation conducted in the middle of last year with the Yarrawonga Mulwala community and it seems they are still seeking the necessary government endorsement for the now preferred option.

“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.

Victorian Minister for Roads and Road Safety Ben Carroll said: “Based on the feedback and changed council preferences, both governments understood community sentiment may have changed and we felt further consultation was necessary to confirm the preferred option.

“Transport for NSW received 285 comments/submissions during consultation from 15 June to 30 July 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.”

It is understood at least 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 construction to be between five and 10 years as per the Murray River crossings investment prioritisation assessment.

In 2018, the NSW and Victorian governments carried out the Murray River Crossings Investment Prioritisation Assessment to help inform and prioritise future investment decisions by ranking each crossing over the Murray River.

The 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.

The Federal Government has indicated a 40% contribution towards the bridge’s construction similar to Echuca’s new crossing.

Mr Farraway said: “We’ve known since the previous consultation held in 2014 that there’s been growing support from communities on both sides of the border for the ‘Green’ route, it’s no surprise that the feedback confirms strong support for this alignment.”

That support has been approximately 74% for the green route, by both Yarrawonga and Mulwala communities.

Government authorities have also held steadfast in their aim to demolish the iconic 1924 Yarrawonga Mulwala bridge once a new bride 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.”