Gundagai historic bridges FAQs
The Prince Alfred Bridge (timber road viaduct) is a timber road viaduct which has not operated since 1984 and is no longer used for transport.
The timber road viaduct has deteriorated extensively and is in very poor condition, creating a significant public safety risk, which will only increase as it continues to deteriorate.
The NSW Government is monitoring the Murrumbidgee River water levels, rain predictions and dam water releases as engineering advice shows a major 1-in-5-year flood (over 7.1m on the Gundagai River Gauge) could further damage the bridge and potentially cause downstream damage to other infrastructure.
It is not economically or environmentally feasible to restore the timber road viaduct given the high cost, the requirement for large unsustainable amounts of timber, maintenance requirements, and a lack of Transport need for the disused bridge.
Instead, the NSW Government will engage with the community on what they believe to be potential memorial options for the timber road viaduct.
The timber road viaduct is in poor condition and continues to deteriorate, creating a public safety risk.
The Gundagai SES reported on 6 August 2021 that a section of the timber road viaduct had fallen at its southern end. Heavy rain in the area over winter increased the weight of bridge timber due to moisture retention, which is suspected to have caused this section to fail.
There is further risk of other sections of the timber road viaduct also failing, including the potential for significant collapse if there is a flood across the floodplain.
The NSW Government engaged an independent engineering consultant to prepare a comprehensive report on the timber road viaduct’s condition, which showed significant structural defects and safety issues.
Based on this advice, the NSW Government has concluded that the timber road viaduct must be removed as soon as possible to protect public safety.
Ongoing consultations on the timber road viaduct have occurred through a working group including representatives from Transport for NSW, Crown Lands, Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council, Gundagai Historic Bridges Inc, the National Trust, Engineers Australia, and Heritage NSW (Department of Premier and Cabinet).
The NSW Government will carry out a Review of Environmental Factors (REF), which will examine and take into account all matters affecting or likely to affect the environment by the proposed removal of the timber road viaduct.
As a part of the REF, a Bat Management Plan will be developed as bats are known to roost and breed in the timber road viaduct throughout different seasons. A heritage impact statement, notification and consultation with the community will also be carried out as part of the development of the REF.
The timber road viaduct has deteriorated extensively in recent times and is in very poor condition, creating public safety risk which will only increase as it continues to deteriorate.
The timber road viaduct must be removed urgently as its poor condition makes it vulnerable to further collapse, particularly following heavy rain events, or in the event of a flood.
Due to the safety threat the timber road viaduct poses, we will start to dismantle it in November 2021.
The NSW Government will conduct a ‘Have Your Say’ four-week consultation in late 2021 to gather feedback and guidance from the Gundagai community on how they would like to celebrate the history of the bridge.
Transport for NSW and Crown Lands are also working with the Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council at all stages of the project to ensure community members have access to information and are kept updated as plans progress.
The timber road viaduct which is being removed is not listed on the State Heritage Register but is considered to be of local heritage significance.
The operational section of Prince Alfred Bridge over the Murrumbidgee River, as well as the disused rail viaduct, are both State Heritage-listed and are being retained.
Heritage interpretation options for the timber road viaduct will be developed in consultation with the community, Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council and other key stakeholders.
We will work with the community to ensure the timber road viaduct is appropriately memorialised for future generations.
The NSW Government is planning to seek feedback in late 2021 on how we can memorialise the bridge.
Crown Lands and Transport for NSW are working collaboratively on this project, as the relevant landowners.
Community residents with questions or requests are advised to contact Crown Lands for further information on the project.
Public safety is our priority, so we are moving quickly to secure necessary planning approvals to dismantle the timber road viaduct.
We are working with the Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council to inform the community of risks and next steps.
In order to keep the community safe, signage has been erected around the viaduct alerting the public to the risks and fencing has been installed to control public access near the viaduct.
A section of the viaduct over OI Bell Drive was removed in late 2020 to allow for safe passage along this road under the viaduct.
Due to the poor condition of the timber and potential contamination, there is unlikely to be material available for reuse or recycling. However, if any usable material is identified it will be stored for potential future use. Waste material from the timber road viaduct will be transported to the nearest waste facility based on contamination levels.