End of an era: last wooden bridge over the Macleay has now been replaced

Today the $4 million Turners Flat Bridge over the Macleay River just southwest of the Skillion Nature Reserve was officially opened by Federal Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan and Kempsey Shire Mayor Liz Campbell.

The opening of this 144 metre concrete bridge marked the end of an era as the old Turners Flat Bridge was the last wooden bridge remaining over the Macleay River.

“Our Government is investing a record $1 billion in transport infrastructure across Australia over the next decade to improve productivity, road safety and support local jobs,” Mr Conaghan said.

“Replacing the aged Turners Flat Bridge in partnership with Kempsey Shire Council was one of these important projects.

“The new two-lane cement bridge, built 1.8 metres higher, means the bridge will remain open more often to keep motorists moving and trade occurring.

“The new two lane concrete bridge increases the load limit of the bridge from 15 tonnes to 166 tonnes, enabling more efficient heavy vehicle movement and increased productivity and community access.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the upgrade was part of the Federal Liberal and Nationals Government’s Bridges Renewal Program.

“By committing more than $640 million over seven years in 50:50 partnerships with local and state governments, we are upgrading and replacing bridges right across Australia,” Mr McCormack said.

“Every new bridge will make it easier for people to access their communities, as well as supporting regional economies by creating safer roads for heavy vehicle and freight drivers.”

Under round three of the Bridges Renewal Program, the Australian Government provided $1,995,615 for the replacement bridge and Council provided the remaining $1,995,615. The new bridge was built by contractor Waeger Constructions.

The old bridge was closed in 2009 due to floodwaters for an extended period when two full bridge spans were destroyed. It was also closed due to flooding in March 2017.

Kempsey Shire Council Mayor Liz Campbell said the opening of the new bridge is a welcome sight for the community.

“Despite additional obstacles due to the bushfire emergency, I am thrilled that Council and the government have been able to deliver this important project in the first month of the New Year,” Cr Campbell said.

“It is such a relief to replace our longest wooden bridge, that has been knocked out twice in a decade by flood, with one made of concrete that is 1.8 metres higher.”

Council delivered the new bridge with only minor disruptions to traffic during construction, as the existing bridge remained open, and the initial completion date of December 2019 suffered only a slight delay due to the recent bushfires.