Construction begins on new bridge at Rouchel

The ageing timber truss bridge over the Rouchel Brook on Rouchel Road is being replaced by a new dual-lane concrete structure that will give motorists and freight operators a more reliable and efficient journey into the future.

The existing bridge, which was built in the 1930s and had a 12-tonne load limit placed on it in 2017, is making way for the new $2.5 million Cameron Bridge, named after former State Member for Upper Hunter William Cameron.

Mr Cameron was born at Rouchel Brook in 1877 and went on to represent the Nationalist Party in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly from 1918 to 1931, representing both Upper Hunter and Maitland.

Construction is already underway and will be completed early next year. The project will support approximately 20 jobs for locals, delivering an important economic boost to the region.

Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Member for New England Barnaby Joyce said this much-needed piece of infrastructure will ensure the smooth and safe flow of traffic through the region for many years to come.

“Building a wider, stronger bridge will save ongoing maintenance costs and provide locals, freight operators and tourists with a viable crossing for years to come,” Mr Joyce, who is also the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, said.

“The Liberal and Nationals Government is helping fund the project through our $760 million Bridges Renewal Program, which is delivering projects that improve the productivity and safety of bridges and heavy vehicle routes nationwide, while supporting jobs and the economy at a time it’s needed most.”

New South Wales Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said the movement of freight and traffic through the region will continue undisrupted during construction and beyond.

“This is about getting on with the job of delivering game-changing road infrastructure projects while keeping communities connected and freight moving,” Mr Toole said.

“To minimise disruption to the 150 vehicles that use this section of Rouchel Road each day, a dedicated single-lane sidetrack has been built to divert traffic while we carry out strengthening work on the bridge.”

Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz said the Government’s Bridges Renewal Program is improving key freight routes and improving our regional roads, delivering long-term benefits to transport operators, farmers, businesses and local communities.

“Better, safer roads means a more efficient road network and this is yet again another example of the Morrison Government investing in infrastructure under our record $110 billion infrastructure plan, supporting local jobs and getting Australians home sooner and safer,” Mr Buchholz said.

State Member for Upper Hunter Dave Layzell said the old bridge is a local landmark and while it is being replaced, it won’t be forgotten by locals.

“The Upper Hunter Shire Council has established a historical archive of the old bridge to ensure its legacy lives on,” Mr Layzell said.

“The archive, which will be available for the public to view, features an overview of the history of the bridge and old photographs of the landscape around the old bridge and of its construction.

“More than 50 structural timber beams, columns and braces from the old bridge will also be salvaged and recycled by Upper Hunter Shire Council for use in maintenance work on other timber bridges in the Shire.”

Upper Hunter Shire Council Mayor Maurice Collison said a key priority of council was ensuring its infrastructure met the evolving needs of the community.

“Projects such as this improve productivity, access and safety, benefiting residents and businesses along with reducing maintenance costs to Council,” Cr Collison said.

Funding for the project is being provided through the New South Wales Government’s Fixing Country Roads Program ($1.75 million) and the Australian Government’s Bridges Renewal Program ($700,000). The Upper Hunter Shire Council is also providing $70,000.

Media Contacts

Deputy Prime Minister – Antony Perry | 0477 971 654 | Antony.Perry@infrastructure.gov.au

Assistant Minister Buchholz – Scott O’Connell | 0413 424 384 | Scott.O’Connell@aph.gov.au

Mr Toole – Ella Smith | 0428 745 348 | Ella.Smith@minister.nsw.gov.au

Mr Layzell – Electorate Office | 6543 1065 | ElectorateOffice.UpperHunter@parliament.nsw.gov.au