Big bucks for our small bridges

Hawkesbury MP Ray Williams, Premier Barry O’Farrell, Londonderry MP Bart Bassett and Hawkesbury Mayor Kim Ford at Sackville yesterday. 	Photo: Kylie Pitt
Hawkesbury MP Ray Williams, Premier Barry O’Farrell, Londonderry MP Bart Bassett and Hawkesbury Mayor Kim Ford at Sackville yesterday. Photo: Kylie Pitt

THEY might not be the Hawkesbury bridges everybody is talking about but seven timber bridges in the region have been earmarked for more than $5 million in upgrades by the state government.

In a visit to Sackville yesterday, Premier Barry O’Farrell launched the Coalition’s $5.26 million low-interest loan to Hawkesbury Council to improve three bridges on Upper Colo Road; two bridges on Upper Macdonald Road; one on West Portland Road; and another on Stannix Park Road.

“These aging single-lane low bridges in the Hawkesbury will be replaced with reinforced concrete structures with sealed approach roads,” Mr O’Farrell said.

“This is one of the best programs we’ve put together since coming to office, with the interest subsidy scheme proving to be extremely popular among local councils.”

The $70 million scheme provides council with a four per cent interest rate subsidy over 10 years on loans to allow infrastructure projects to take place. The Premier, however, shrugged off suggestions Sydney’s north-west is more interested in bigger picture infrastructure endeavours such as improving the region’s inadequate transport system.

“A scheme like this is absolutely important,” Mr O’Farrell said.

“I know we’re all focused on big rail lines and big highways but in local areas like this, it’s projects like this that have a big impact.”

Hawkesbury Mayor Kim Ford said the projects had already begun and tenders would be called in the next two to three months.

“It is anticipated that work will be completed on all seven bridges by 2015,” Cr Ford said. “All the contractors on council’s tender list are local so it’s local employment and therefore a positive project all-round.”

Member for Londonderry Bart Bassett said the latest flooding in the Hawkesbury in February made the upgrade paramount.

“I don’t think you can understate the safety aspects,” Mr Bassett said.

“You have single-lane bridges and on weekends you can have a fair bit of traffic so I think it improves the safety aspects out here immensely.”