$1m bridge opened on Northern Rivers

LOCALS, tourists and emergency services now have safer access on a vital road following the completion of works on a new bridge.

Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Member for New England Barnaby Joyce today officially opened the $1 million bridge over Bookookoorara Creek, about 34 kilometres north of Tenterfield.

Mr Joyce said the new two-lane, concrete bridge replaces a single-lane timber bridge built more than 70 years ago.

'It's part of the upgrade of the Legume-Woodenbong section of the Mount Lindesay road, one of the most contentious roads in Australia, that we promised to fix and are now fixing, " Mr Joyce said.

"It's a strategic transport link of the Darling Downs. This bridge is an important milestone in fixing this road, which had previously been a State Highway, and presented serious safety concerns to the many vehicles which use the route each day including school buses and semi-trailers which must divert onto the unsealed shoulders of the road when passing each other with little room to spare.

"Built higher over the creek than the original bridge, the new structure represents a major improvement on Mt Lindesay Road, particularly for emergency services vehicles trying to access the area during bushfires and other natural disasters.

"The project employed local contractors and suppliers where possible. It is important to ensure that local businesses benefit from projects like this one both financially and as a way of developing skills and expertise."

New South Wales Member for Lismore Thomas George said the bridge was built under the New South Wales Government's Country Bridge Solutions programme, which delivers cost savings by using standardised prefabricated bridge components and existing council resources to replace bridges.

"Roads and Maritime Services had developed a range of designs and guidelines to help regional councils design, build and maintain bridges on their regional and local road networks," Mr George said.

"All councils are encouraged to access these guides on the Roads and Maritime website and make use of this valuable resource."

Tenterfield Shire Mayor Peter Petty said the project demonstrates how a partnership between the three tiers of government delivers great results for Australian communities.

"Managed by Roads and Maritime Services and Tenterfield Shire Council - with the support of the New South Wales division of the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia -work started on this project in February this year," Cr Petty said.

"The project was subsequently delivered in less than 12 months."

The $1.05 million project was jointly funded by the Australian and New South Wales governments and Tenterfield Shire Council.

For more information on the Australian Government's Bridges Renewal Programme, including current projects and eligibility criteria, visit: http://investment.infrastructure.gov.au/funding/bridgesrenewal/index.aspx.