The upgraded Munsie Bridge was officially opened on Friday.
The opening of the bridge, which crosses Salisbury Waters on Gostwyck Road south of Uralla, marked the formal completion of an $800,000 upgrade, which was promised by the federal government ahead of the 2016 election.
Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, said the upgraded bridge’s higher load capacity enabled heavy vehicles to deliver goods to market faster and with reduced costs.
“This is yet another example of substantial delivery off the highway, which will help farmers and other motorists that rely on this vital connection,” Mr Joyce said.
“If you can’t get cattle to market or wool to sale, you can’t get paid! Now Gostwyck has an old chapel and a beautiful new bridge.”
Works involved the replacement of the bridge’s ageing timber deck with a reinforced concrete deck, made from precast concrete panels. The existing reinforced concrete piers were retained.
Replacing the timber bridge deck will reduce maintenance costs and the frequency of closures associated with such maintenance.
The single lane bridge deck had been designed to Higher Mass Limit standards and is capable of carrying B-Doubles, so truck drivers no longer need to make the lengthy detour through Armidale.
The upgraded bridge, which is located on a designated tourist route, also has improved safety guard rails (which have retained some of the visual character of the old rails), approaches and signage.
Uralla Shire mayor Michael Pearce said the project and the recent upgrade of the Mihi Creek Bridge meant that all of the council’s timber deck vehicular bridges had now been upgraded to reinforced concrete decks.
Work on Munsie Bridge started in March and about 20 jobs were supported during construction.
The old Munsie Bridge was opened on the April 5, 1938 and was named after Councillor TEC Munsie.