Construction is now underway on the new rail bridge over the Avon River at Stratford.
Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester and Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan visited Stratford to mark a major milestone for the project, which is being delivered as part of the Gippsland Line Upgrade.
“This project will provide a boost for the community of Stratford and its surrounds and I’m excited to see crews working to build the new bridge,” Mr Chester said.
“This is a $95 million investment in keeping the communities of Gippsland connected.”
Ms Allan said local jobs were a focus for the project with Heyfield company McInnes Earthmoving building the access tracks and piling pads, which will allow heavy machinery, piling rigs and mobile cranes to operate on site.
More than 3,000 tonnes of material, which has been sourced from Olsson Sand and Gravel Supplies in Longford, will be used in the construction of the tracks and pads.
“We want as many local suppliers as possible delivering these works for their community, so it’s great to see local contractors involved from the very beginning of construction,” Ms Allan said.
“The Gippsland Line Upgrade isn’t just about providing better services for passengers in the region, it’s also creating jobs and local opportunities.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the new bridge would make Bairnsdale services more dependable.
“This is an exciting milestone for the project and I’m pleased more reliable services are on the way for passengers using the Bairnsdale line,” Mr McCormack said.
“The Avon River bridge has served Stratford and the wider Gippsland community magnificently across its 130 year lifespan but is nearing the end of its service.”
The new $95 million bridge will allow trains to travel up to 90 kilometres per hour rather than the current limit of 10 kilometres per hour on the existing bridge and create the opportunity for freight trains to run on this section of the line in the future.
Around 300 people will work on the construction of the new bridge, which is expected to be completed in early 2021.
The community will be able to watch the new bridge come to life, with a viewing area to be set up near the construction site in coming weeks.
The Gippsland Line Upgrade has already delivered benefits for passengers, with level crossing upgrades between Sale and Bairnsdale allowing VLocity trains to travel to Bairnsdale for the first time.
The Gippsland Line Upgrade is part of the $1.75 billion Regional Rail Revival program, funded by the Victorian and Australian governments, which is upgrading every regional passenger line in the state and will create more than 1000 jobs.
More information about the project is available at www.regionalrailrevival.vic.gov.au/gippsland