Historic Nowra Bridge

Historic Nowra Bridge repurposing

The 1881 heritage listed whipple truss bridge across the Shoalhaven River will be repurposed when traffic moves onto the new river crossing.

Latest news

DEC 2021

DEC 2021Have your say on the Historic Nowra Bridge

We want feedback from the community, stakeholders, businesses, transport customers and visitors on how the bridge could be repurposed, what opportunities this creates, and what else we could do to create a sustainable, flexible and exciting future for the historic bridge.

Our goal is to create a place where community and visitors can visit, explore, learn and interact, as well as a place that acknowledges the bridge’s heritage, promotes active transport options and connects the Nowra foreshores.

You can have your say by completing the survey or writing to us at NowraBridgeProject@transport.nsw.gov.au

DEC 2021

DEC 2021View the project update on the Historic Nowra Bridge

To find out more about the repurposing of the historic Nowra Bridge and where we are up to view the December 2021 project update (PDF, 4.49Mb).

The 1881 heritage listed whipple truss bridge across the Shoalhaven River at Nowra is an unofficial gateway to the South Coast and one of its heritage icons.

The historic bridge has carried traffic for 140 years and will begin a new phase in its life to carry pedestrians and cyclists when the new bridge opens to traffic.

The project update includes key considerations for repurposing based on feedback received in 2014 as well as critical work required including maintenance, repainting and repairs.

Video - A new life for the old Nowra Bridge

Subscribe for updates

Privacy Statement: Transport for NSW is committed to protecting your personal information. Information collected via the subscribe to Historic Nowra Bridge repurposing project project updates will enable us to email you relevant information regarding this project. We will not publish or disclose your personal information to any third parties unless you consent or as authorised by law. Aggregated or depersonalised information which does not identify you, such as summary tables, may be published or disclosed to third parties. Providing personal information is voluntary, however we rely on your participation to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information obtained and we may not be able to communicate with you directly if you do not provide your personal information.

Your information will be managed by Transport for NSW in accordance with the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 and the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002. For further information, please see our Privacy Management Plan or contact us at privacy@transport.nsw.gov.au. If you wish to access, correct or remove the personal information collected by us you can email NowraBridgeProject@transport.nsw.gov.au.

Project information

The future of the 1881 heritage listed whipple truss bridge across the Shoalhaven River has been the subject of extensive investigations.

In 2018 it was recommended the bridge be retained for adaptive reuse when it is retired and road traffic moves onto the new river crossing which is currently being built.

The decision was based on the historical significance and heritage value of the bridge, while also taking into consideration the expected benefits, cost and feedback received during planning of the Nowra Bridge project.

In late 2014 during the early planning stages of the Nowra Bridge project, we asked for feedback on the historic bridge, currently used by southbound traffic, to inform a decision on whether it would be retained, relocated or removed. During that time the majority of the submissions received indicated the bridge should be retained. The submissions report from this consultation can be viewed in project documents.

The process and timing of the repurposing is shown in the flow chart on this page. We are now in the construction stage of the Nowra Bridge project and we are also carrying out inspections and investigations into the old bridge.

Your feedback will inform the review of environmental factors (REF) which will be carried out next year and we plan to have a proposal and designs for repurposing on display with the REF in late 2022

Historic Nowra Bridge repurposing flow chart

Old Nowra Bridge frequently asked questions

  • The 1881 whipple truss bridge will be retired from road use and repurposed after the new four lane Nowra Bridge opens.

    The future of the bridge has been the subject of extensive investigations and in 2018 it was recommended the bridge be retained for adaptive reuse. The decision was based on the historical significance and heritage value of the bridge, while also taking into consideration the expected benefits and feedback received during planning of the Nowra Bridge project.

  • We are asking for feedback to help plan this repurposing work and ensure it aligns with what locals and visitors want for future uses of the bridge. Key feedback from community consultation in 2014 indicated a desire to see tourism opportunities considered when repurposing the heritage bridge.

    The consultation period will run from 9 December 2021 to 4 February 2022 to capture local and visitor feedback over the summer holidays.

  • Your feedback will inform the review of environmental factors (REF) which will be carried out next year. The REF will assess the environmental, social and economic impacts of the work. We are planning to have a proposal and designs on display with the REF in late 2022.
  • Community consultation conducted by Transport for NSW in 2014 showed a strong majority of people wanted to see the 1881 bridge retained. It has reached the end of its serviceable life for road traffic due to its 140 year old design being unsuitable for modern traffic needs with weight and size limits restricting the flow of heavy vehicles across the Shoalhaven River.
  • Inspections are being carried out to inform the rehabilitation and maintenance works required. These investigations include above and below water inspections as well as structural analysis.

    The heritage bridge will require some critical repairs prior to any repurposing including the removal of lead paint and repainting. The full extent of work will be assessed in the review of environmental factors in 2022.

    Work to prepare the bridge and repaint it is estimated to take around 18 months to two years.

  • Community consultation over summer 2021-22 will help to determine how the 1800s steel truss bridge should be repurposed. Feedback from consultation in 2014 identified key themes of how the community wanted to use the space including as an active and interactive space, a place to celebrate and recognise history and heritage including Aboriginal heritage and as a tourist drawcard.

    The inclusion of active transport options including cycleway and footpaths along with the display of information were among suggestions to come from this 2014 feedback.

    Heritage and environmental factors will need to be considered as part of any repurposing to ensure the heritage integrity of the 1881 bridge is retained, and minimise impacts on the Shoalhaven River.

  • The whipple truss steel bridge is around six metres wide and 342 metres long.
  • The bridge is a rare example of a pin-jointed whipple truss bridge and is listed on a number of heritage registers as having both local and state significant, including the Roads and Maritime Services Section 170 Heritage and Conservation Register.

    When it opened in 1881 the old Nowra Bridge it was the largest bridge project in New South Wales. It is also the only steel truss bridge of its kind to be used for road traffic in the state.

  • The historical and structural significance of the bridge was a key factor in the decision to retain it and it does also limit our repurposing options. Any proposal will need to be sympathetic to the bridges existing heritage value and appearance.

    There are also opportunities to celebrates the bridge’s heritage through the repurposing and this is one area we are seeking feedback on from the community.

  • As the steel truss bridge is only around six metres wide and prone to strong gusts of wind it is unsafe to have market stalls set up along it. There are also environmental concerns including the risk of large amounts of rubbish falling or blowing into the Shoalhaven River.
  • The heritage listed bridge has reached the end of its serviceable life for heavy vehicle traffic and would not be able to withstand the weight and motion impacts of a modern passenger or freight train.

    The bridge is operationally unsuitable to cater for future traffic demands or rail usage and will be closed to vehicles once the new bridge is open.

    The Future Transport Strategy 2056 does not identify extending the South Coast Rail line south into Nowra or further as an initiative for investigation in the short, medium or long term.

  • The 1881 bridge will remain a Transport for NSW asset after repair and repurposing is complete. Transport for NSW will be responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the structure and foundations.

    Transport for NSW will work together with Shoalhaven City Council on the repurposing to ensure it fits with council’s broader plans for the foreshore.

  • Final cost of the repurposing will be highly dependent on the purpose and design chosen for the bridge once it is retired from road traffic. Community feedback will help shape the concept and design of this repurposing work.

    There are some critical maintenance activities required to ensure the bridge is safe for ongoing use. This includes lead paint removal and repainting which could be $15-25 million, with the full extent of work required to be assessed through further investigations now and when traffic moves off the bridge.

  • When the new four-lane concrete bridge opens to traffic, further investigations and maintenance work will be able to start on the steel truss bridge.

    The Nowra Bridge project is scheduled for completion in 2024, and it is estimated repairs to the historic Nowra Bridge could take 18 months to two years.

    Proposed timing of the repurposing and critical work required is shown in the December project update (PDF, xxMb).

    We will continue to keep the community and stakeholders informed of progress on the bridge repurposing.

  • To receive updates about the repurposing project, please join our mailing list.

Project documents


Contact us

For further information about this project contact:

Email: NowraBridgeProject@transport.nsw.gov.au

Mail: Nowra Bridge project, PO Box 477 Wollongong NSW 2520

Visit: Community display centre, 14 Moss Street Nowra NSW 2541

Share this page: