Wagga might be given a 30-month grace period before facing major traffic disruption from the $15 billion Inland Rail project's plans to clear a path through the city.
The federal Inland Rail project is designed to improve rail freight speeds and weight limits between Brisbane and Melbourne.
As part of multiple changes to Wagga's infrastructure to accommodate freight trains stacked with two shipping containers on top of each other, the Edmondson Street Bridge will be replaced with a new bridge that will be 2.8 metres higher.
In response to community comments about the Albury to Illabo section's reference designs, the project has clarified when this work will take place.
A public comment on the designs asked how long the "substantial impacts on both vehicles and pedestrians in the city" would last while the bridge was replaced, given the high volumes of both who use this bridge including large numbers of students. The Inland Rail project responded that the bridge "will be closed to vehicles and pedestrians for a period of approximately nine months from early 2024".
"This proposed project timeframe is based on standard construction hours. We will continue to work closely with Wagga Council and inform stakeholders as the project progresses," the Inland Rail response stated.
Wagga mayor Greg Conkey said the bridge works would cause a lot of disruption when they arrived and warned that some of the city's history, such as the Bomen Railway Station, could be affected.
"It's going to be an extremely painful process when it happens as [Best Street] is a major arterial road into the city and it is going to cause significant traffic disruptions, but it has to be done," Cr Conkey said.
Cr Conkey said he hoped the Inland Rail project would at least end up granting better access to South Wagga Public School.
Along with several footbridges, one of Wagga's historic but disused stations would need to have its awning changed to make room for double-stacked freight carriages.
The Inland rail Albury to Illabo's scoping report stated that the Bomen Railway Station was one of the "Identified non-Aboriginal heritage sites within 200 metres" of the project and some of these sites would need "permanent modification of significant items or works".
'This includes the potential trimming of the awning at Bomen Railway Station," the report stated.
"Statement of Heritage Impact reports will be prepared for all sites to be impacted."
Wagga rail enthusiast Geoff Haddon said the station's awning was "very rare" because it extended over the lines.
"There's nothing I could say to contradict removing it as as soon as the first wagon goes through, it would knock the awning off," he said.
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