Residents of Wagga's northern suburbs have called for a plan to ease Gobbagombalin Bridge's traffic issues amid a government prediction that the river crossing will reach capacity in as little as six years.
The NSW government's unveiling of plans for traffic lights at either end of the bridge has renewed debate on how to manage traffic between growing suburbs and a majority of the city's schools and workplaces.
The Roads and Maritime Services' Olympic Highway intersection upgrades preferred options report found peak hour traffic had been growing by more than 11 per cent a year.
The report found that the bridge's capacity for "acceptable operation" would be reached "based on current growth, between 2026 and 2036".
Estella Progress Association president Mark Brown said he thought the Gobba Bridge could hit maximum traffic capacity within five years, but did not back other residents' calls to duplicate the crossing.
"In terms of finances, it's not a viable option ... it's easy enough to say 'just duplicate the bridge' but the amount of survey work and disruption would be quite untenable and unjustified," he said.
Mr Brown said the government should start looking at long-term options, including a potential alternate route to the northern suburbs.
"If we keep focusing our attention on Gobba Bridge as the sole avenue of approach into Wagga, of course we are going to end up with a bottleneck, it doesn't matter how many traffic lights or roundabouts you add," he said.
Committee 4 Wagga chief executive Alan Johnston said duplicating the bridge would at least match the original cost, which came to $49 million in 1997.
"It's not just the bridge, it's the approach roads and the intersections," he said.
"Duplication of the Olympic Highway on the northern side would need to be addressed, probably all the way up to Coolamon Road, and that's a pretty significant build cost."
Mr Johnston said he hoped the pending Wagga Future Transport Place plan, developed with the state government, would provide a way forward.
Wagga-based Nationals MLC Wes Fang said state support for industrial development at Bomen could see a shift in future traffic demands.
"Let's make these [intersection] improvements, let's see them in operation and then into the future we can see how we can better manage the traffic," he said.
"We are doing everything we can to assist putting industry and jobs on the north side of Wagga ... potentially many people won't have to cross the river at all, considering the tens of millions of dollars we are putting into the special activation precinct."