Work has begun to duplicate the current bridge; upgrades to the feeder roads and Bridge Street intersection will be next.
Tamworth mayor Col Murray said it was “one of the final pieces in the puzzle of the traffic congestion north of the CBD”.
In an announcement at the site this morning, Cr Murray said the intersection was “one of the most important traffic obstacles we have in the city, and has been for a number of years”.
“We’re very appreciative of the assistance of the federal government and Member for New England Barnaby Joyce for pulling something out of the hat to be able to fund this bridge upgrade,” he said.
The two lanes on the current bridge will be for vehicles travelling from Taminda to Peel Street, and the new two-lane bridge for those going from Peel Street to Taminda.
Thousands a day
Mr Joyce said the current infrastructure was “one of the most congested spots not just only in Tamworth but in northern NSW”.
“This is 16,000 movements a day that happens at that spot,” he said.
“It’s becoming busier and busier and, as the city of Tamworth grows, the congestion on that road grows.
“We have to plan for the city into the future, and making sure that we duplicate this bridge does that.”
The on-time completion will depend on the weather, and Cr Murray said the works would not “really have any impact at all on traffic”.
He said all local council staff would “do most of the civil work – the approaches on each side of the bridge … and I’m sure the bridge contractor will pick up local labour as they move through”.
‘You can be cynical’
Mr Joyce said he was delivering on a promise he made during his 2016 federal election campaign, and didn’t shy away from the fact completion was perfectly timed for the next vote in 2019.
“It’s well-planned; it’s making absolutely certain that people see that their local member is delivering,” he said.
“That’s what you do in politics, so you can be cynical about it, but if people say, ‘Oh gosh, he made that announcement so we know that he built the bridge …’ – yeah, I got no problems with that.”
Cr Murray said: “One of the most important elements of projects like these for a regional city like Tamworth is the assistance of other levels of government”.
“In Tamworth, we’ve been very fortunate with the well-performing local member for the state, but also for the federal government.
“Without the sort of assistance that’s been provided for this bridge … this project just simply wouldn’t happen and we’d have to bear with the consequences of growth without assistance of government.”
- Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson was unable to attend the announcement, as he was in Parliament.