NSW Roads and Maritime Services has killed off any chance the existing Yarrawonga-Mulwala traffic bridge will be retained after its replacement is built.
The deathknell sounded at a meeting yesterday of the major players in the bridge battle — VicRoads, Roads and Maritime Services, MPs Tim McCurdy and Greg Aplin, and Moira and Corowa councils.
A community group has been lobbying for the retention of the bridge in conjunction with support for the green route as its $80 million replacement.
“RMS has advised key stakeholders this week the old bridge will be demolished after the new bridge opens due to ongoing costs, expertise required to maintain the heritage asset and potential safety concerns,” an RMS spokesperson said.
“RMS will continue working with the Yarrawonga and Mulwala communities to plan a way forward which may include recycling some of the bridge materials for the new community asset.”
But Green Route community group spokesman John Lawless said the battle wasn’t over.
“It has to remain open until the replacement is built and its retention will be a matter for another day,” he said.
“I am still confident commonsense will prevail.”
The final recommendation from the Victorian and NSW roads authorities on the preferred route for the replacement bridge won’t be revealed publicly.
The two MPs and Moira Shire support the green route which would be situated near the existing weir crossing, which is earmarked for closure in 2020.
Corowa Shire has been left one out in its backing of the grey route which would be built next to the bridge that now links Belmore Street in Yarrawonga and Melbourne Street in Mulwala.
VicRoads regional director Bryan Sherritt said the final recommendation from VicRoads and RMS to the Victorian and NSW governments would be made next month.
“The meeting (today) was another step in the engagement process and was about ensuring that all government stakeholders have been provided with the same information about the bridge route options,” he said.
“The recommendation will not be made public as it would pre-empt the decision of the Victorian and NSW governments.
“It will be based on all information gathered.”
Corowa mayor Fred Longmire welcomed the RMS decision.
“Right from the start we’ve said we’ve got no money to maintain the existing bridge,” he said.
“It was never going to happen.”