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New bridge a welcome boost for Clarence Town

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In a rare show of bipartisan support, Upper Hunter MP Dave Layzell has welcomed the news Clarence Town will get a new bridge over the Williams River.

The $20.6 million structure, funded by the Australian and NSW governments, is scheduled to be built alongside the heritage-listed Brig O’Johnston Bridge on Limeburners Creek Road.

It will allow for semi-trailers of at least 45.5 tonnes and 68-tonne B-Doubles.

And, unlike the Brig O’Johnston Bridge, it’ll also cater for over-width vehicles.

The project is expected to improve freight access and productivity, enhance road safety and support local industries.

The Australian and NSW governments had previously approved $8.8 million and $5.5 million in funding respectively.

The state authority then increased its contribution by a further $5.5 million to $11 million, with its federal counterparts adding an additional $781,000 to the tally.

“I recently visited Dungog and the growing need for a new bridge was clear to me,” NSW Regional Transport and Roads Minister Jenny Aitchison said.

“The NSW Labor Government’s announcement of extra funding to ensure it’s delivered is fantastic news for the people of Clarence Town.

“The key driver for this project is to provide uninhibited access and egress for heavy vehicles into the LGA.

“It will also offer a freight link from the Pacific Highway and the Bucketts Way into rural agricultural areas of Dungog, Vacy and East Gresford.

“Many of the region’s agricultural industries will benefit from larger, more productive transport into this area.”

Upper Hunter MP Dave Layzell at Clarence Town.

Tenders are expected to be called in coming months… a move hailed by Mr Layzell.

“Residents of Clarence Town and motorists who regularly drive through the area needed an assurance that this project would go ahead after last July’s temporary closure of the historic Brig O’Johnston Bridge for urgent repairs,” the Nationals member said.

“Coupled with the recent announcement of NSW Government funding from the Regional Housing Strategic Planning Fund to progress residential development opportunities, there is now little time to waste to provide much-needed infrastructure for the town’s future.”

Dungog Shire Council has been waiting since 2021 when it finalised the design and had Heritage NSW approval for the new bridge due a cost blowout delaying construction.

Council was thwarted when inflation, resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, impacted the costs of materials, requiring it to find another $4.86 million to finish the project.

“I want to acknowledge the efforts of Jenny (Aitchison) for taking up my challenge issued last year to work on securing the extra funding needed for the new bridge,” Mr Layzell said.

A pedestrian walkway is part of the project, too, while the Brig O’Johnston Bridge will be retained and rehabilitated.

“We have been advocating heavily for this across all levels of government for several years,” Dungog Shire mayor John Connors said.

“We’re thrilled we can finally deliver a safe, reliable and accessible bridge that the Clarence Town community deserves.

“As a region, the Dungog Shire has been identified as potentially needing 2,400 residential homes by 2041.

“So, it’s great to know that the infrastructure on major arterial routes – such as the Clarence Town Bridge, will support this level of growth.

“We’re incredibly grateful to Ms Aitchison and Federal Minister for Infrastructure Catherine King for working with us to make this asset a reality for the Dungog shire.”

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