THE downgrading in priority of building a new bridge between Yarrawonga and Mulwala has left proponents of the green route dumbfounded.
Green Route action group spokesman John Lawless met with VicRoads North-East regional manager Nicki Kyriakou yesterday to discuss the report into Murray River crossing investment priorities commissioned by VicRoads and NSW Roads and Maritime Services.
Mr Lawless said the rating of the Yarrawonga-Mulwala bridge being only a “medium term” priority had put it back more than 10 years.
But the pain is coming in the short-term with secondary weir bridge crossing to shut in 2020.
“The traffic problems in Yarrawonga are going to be massive when the weir bridge closes,” he said.
“We thought that would have been one of the factors in making it a higher priority rather than a lesser priority.”
Mr Lawless said freight transport needs were a major consideration and the closest option for trucks to cross the river to avoid the anticipated gridlock in Yarrawonga post the weir bridge closure was the Federation Bridge at Corowa 50km away.
“Freight is the big one,” he said.
“It is pretty obvious you are going to need a direct alignment for A-Double and B-Triple trucks and the only alignment that caters for that is the green route.
“On the current traffic bridge two B-Double trucks cannot pass safely now on the narrowed section where the the girders are and also where the curve is closer to Yarrawonga.
“A grain export container terminal is being built in Benalla Road, Yarrawonga and will attract a lot more grain and the bulk of it will come from the north.”
VicRoads is the lead agency on the Yarrawonga-Mulwala bridge replacement and regional director Nicki Kyriakou defended the lower priority rating.
“Thee Yarrawonga-Mulwala bridge assessment found it is in fair condition and meets a range of other criteria," she said.
“We know it’s an important connection and we’ll continue working closely with our NSW counterparts to ensure it’s safe and reliable.”
Confirmation was also sought from the Murray Darling Basin Authority whether the 2020 weir bridge closure was still on track.