Kapooka Bridge earns CWA anger

NEWS of another potential delay to the Kapooka Bridge upgrade has angered the Country Women's Association (CWA).

The Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) has found that new research on the impacts to Box Gum woodland in the surrounding area needs to be undertaken.

Without the study approval cannot be gained for the long-awaited $39 million project.

CWA Riverina branch president Helen de Plater said although the environment was important, lives needed to be put first.

That's why when the group met at The Rock this week they were unanimous in their objection to any further delays.

"There comes a time where lives must become more important," Mrs de Plater said.

"We're raising our voice and raising our concern.

"There has been and will continue to be tragedies until the upgrade is done.

"We're not against the environment or nature but the bridge has been in a shocking condition for years. Every time you go past, bits and pieces fall off.

"It's ridiculous."

Member for Wagga Daryl Maguire said he shared the concerns of the CWA and had it on his list of things to follow up.

He said he would raise the issue with Minister for Roads and Ports Duncan Gay within the next two weeks.

“When the announcement was made I put it on my list of things to do,” he said.

“I understand the issue and it’s important this study is done, but it is important it is done quickly.

“I agree with the ladies that it is a concern and the community is anxious for work to begin.” 

When asked about the matter, a RMS spokeswoman said preliminary works to realign and replace the existing bridge were under way.

She said as part of the review they were required to undertake an ecological assessment which found the proposed works on the bridge would impact woodland.

Because of this, she said NSW legislation required them to refer the matter to the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) for a species impact statement to be completed.

“RMS is working with OEH to find the best way of both addressing the need to protect the environment with the need to complete necessary preliminary work and to start building the bridge for the safety and convenience of motorists,” she said.

“RMS expects to have the new bridge available for use in 2015, weather permitting.”

The state government guaranteed the completion of the upgrade of the bridge, which has been identified as a safety risk, when Mr Gay visited the city in October.

The upgrade would see the weight restriction – the only one identified on the Olympic Highway – removed, providing efficiency and economic benefits.

Traffic counts taken in 2010 found that almost 5000 vehicles crossed the bridge daily.

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