Gunnedah Shire Council staff have commenced work on reinstating the flood-damaged approaches to the new Orange Grove Bridge now that weather conditions and dam releases allow, with a view to opening it as soon as possible.
Gunnedah Shire Council Manager Works Peter Smith said the bridge had been close to completion when the Shire was hit by the recent flood events.
“Orange Grove Bridge construction had been carefully timed to take planned releases from Keepit Dam into account,” Mr Smith said.
“The bridge had been completed and was close to opening to traffic when these floods occurred. It has been designed and constructed to withstand significant water flows over the top of the bridge and the new bridge remains undamaged. The new bridge has a larger waterway area underneath it than the old bridge and features a clear single-span design that means it does not require pier supports along its length.
“Unfortunately, the road approaches had not yet been sealed when the flood event occurred, and we will need about two weeks of clear weather to ensure the bridge is safe for traffic. We have been co-ordinating with Water NSW to identify a window of time that will work outside scheduled water releases.
“We are aware of the importance of this bridge to residents of the area and are working to ensure it is open as soon as possible. At this stage, we expect to be able to undertake this work and have the bridge open to traffic within the next two weeks. If there are any changes to that we will keep the community informed.”
In March 2021, Gunnedah Shire Council was allocated around $1.1 million in funding through the NSW Fixing Country Bridges Program funding and the Federal Bridge Renewal Program to replace the bridge. The remainder of the project cost is being met by Gunnedah Shire Council.
“The current bridge has been designed and constructed to current standards considering the budget available for the project at the time of delivery,” Mr Smith said.
“Discussions are occurring with Transport for NSW to see what improvements can be made to the bridge approaches and guardrail within Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements to make it more resilient. Any major improvements from the review will be undertaken sometime after the bridge is reopened.”
The bridge will initially be limited to one lane with no other vehicle restrictions. Please drive with care and obey traffic signs.
Caption: Orange Grove Bridge from the air in the days following a recent flood event.