THE "CRUSTY" old bridge in Manilla will be a thing of the past for travellers who pass through as shovels hit the ground on a new multi-million dollar thoroughfare.
Tamworth Regional Council mayor Col Murray welcomed the start of work on the Namoi River crossing that will replace the current narrow bridge.
"This will take all the through-traffic off that crusty old bridge, historic bridge that's been such a bugbear for through travellers for so many years," he said.
The new bridge is designed to sit above the one in 100 year flood level and is being built about 380 metres upstream of the narrow 1.5 lane bridge built in 1886.
The total budget for the project is more than $9 million.
Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson said it would provide safer road networks and better productivity for the region.
"The 1.5 lane bridge that has been operating since the 1880's will be a thing of the past," he said.
"It will still be a local road but certainly the safety component with larger trucks and more vehicles using the bridge does make it a safety hazard.
"Our transport companies are consistently talking to us about how to improve our road networks and get freight from A to B."
It's hoped the route will be safer for travellers with caravans.
Work has started with the construction of two new water mains, the foundations of the bridge and an upgrade to the Market and Arthur streets intersection.
Minor roadworks have started with the major expected to begin in February next year.
It's hoped to be completed by mid-2021.