The Yarrawonga Mulwala bridge is not heritage listed, costs $400,000 per year to maintain and would have to be maintained at the same standard even if it was closed to traffic.RACHEAL WILLETT March 18, 2014 3:46pm
That was the position of the then Roads and Traffic Authority in 2011 and nothing has changed in 2014 according to NSW Roads and Maritime Services.
The annual cost to maintain the bridge has long been a bone of contention within the community, with many questioning the oft-reported figure of $400,000.
In response to questions from the Yarrawonga Chronicle and in light of recent community, business and tourism calls to keep the existing bridge when a new crossing is built, an RMS spokesperson provided this response;
“The average annual cost to maintain the bridge is estimated to be at least $400,000.
“This includes routine maintenance such as cleaning the deck, footpath, drainage outlets, repairing damage caused by vehicles, resurfacing and sign repairs.
“Other major work includes repainting of steel trusses, resealing the road, concrete and bearing repairs. The bridge is inspected every two years to determine the need for future work.”
The spokesperson said the bridge was repainted every 25 years or so to combat corrosion at a cost of around $4 million.
According to RMS the bridge is due to repainted sometime in the next five to seven years. Should the new bridge be completed on schedule by 2020 – the existing bridge will be decommissioned by the roads authorities in six years.
Many Yarrawonga Chronicle readers commented recently, through letters and social media, on possible uses for the bridge as a pedestrian and cycle crossing or marketplace once it is closed to traffic.
In that case would the maintenance costs be reduced if the bridge was closed to vehicles?
“Most damage to bridges is caused by ageing,” the spokesperson said.
“For safety reasons, all public infrastructure is required to be maintained to the highest standards.
“Should the bridge be retained for any purpose, it would need to be maintained to at least the standard it is today to ensure the safety of users of the bridge and those passing underneath.”
Another common misconception in relation to the bridge is that it is, either as a whole or in some part, state heritage listed and therefore protected from demolition.
“The most recent heritage assessment of the Yarrawonga Mulwala bridge was completed by Roads and Maritime in January 2012,” the spokesperson said.
“The bridge is listed as being of local heritage significance. Roads and Maritime Services is unaware of any future planned assessments.
“As the bridge is an item of local heritage significance the Heritage Act requires Roads and Maritime Services to notify the NSW Heritage Council in advance of actions such as demolition.
“This notification would include supporting documentation explaining the bridge’s significance and the process which determined the bridge should be demolished.”
The RMS spokesperson reiterated a statement from VicRoads last month that in principle agreement had been reached for the bridge to be decommissioned once a new one is built.
“Councils have acknowledged they do not have the capacity to fund the maintenance and as such have expressed no desire to keep the bridge.
“Both state agencies are planning for the bridge to be removed.”
And how much will it cost the roads authorities to demolish the Yarrawonga Mulwala bridge?
“A detailed costing to demolish the bridge will be carried out when the design for the new bridge is complete.”
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