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Fears bridge's concrete cancer will paralyse traffic

Date

John Thistleton

Canberran Rod Anthes fishes by Nelligen Bridge which needs to be repaired or replaced because of its deteriorating piles.

Canberran Rod Anthes fishes by Nelligen Bridge which needs to be repaired or replaced because of its deteriorating piles. Photo: Graham Tidy

Eurobodalla's mayor Lindsay Brown hopes coast-bound Canberrans won't be queuing at traffic lights at Nelligen Bridge which needs major repairs on its concrete piles.

The bridge is one of several Kings Highway pinch points which can double the almost two-hour journey from Canberra during peak holiday traffic.

On the main road for freight carriers and people in Canberra, Queanbeyan, Braidwood and other surrounding inland towns heading to the South Coast, the bridge's reinforced concrete piles have been deteriorating for years.

NSW Roads and Maritime Service structural engineers have assessed the strength of the bridge and found it is still able to safely carry normal highway loads, but will deteriorate over time.

The service is now deciding whether to replace or repair the bridge, and says it will announce its decision early next year.

Canberran Rod Anthes, wetting a line under the bridge on Boxing Day, said he could understand the concern and the longer it was left, the worst it would become.

"One thing is for sure, it is not going to get any better,'' Mr Anthes, a senior legal counsel , said.

''They have got to bite the bullet. At the end of the day it comes down to the irritation factor.''

Mr Brown said the bridge was in poor condition.

''We hope it doesn't come to fruition, but there has been some discussion where it is going to be a one-way bridge at some stage in the future, unless repairs are done pretty quickly.

''We are working with the RMS, encouraging them to get on with that work as soon as possible so it does not cause any issues with traffic.''

The bridge carries single-lane traffic in either direction. It was built in 1964, replacing a punt service across the Clyde River.

''The issue we are concerned about is the fact the bridge could get down to one-way, with traffic lights because of the load, Mr Brown said.

The council was trying to keep up with infrastructure upgrades, but faced several challenges.

''Living on the coast, the salt air, while we like to breathe the salt air and go for a swim, it comes with the corrosive attributes as well .

''A major concern for us is our infrastructure, for example, how do we address the concrete cancer in a lot of our bridge work.''

Daily traffic on the highway varies from almost 25,000 vehicles per day at Queanbeyan to about 4000 vehicles per day at Batemans Bay, rising as much as 50 per cent in peak seasons.

Repairing the bridge will be more difficult because of the lack of a suitable detour. ''We are saying to the RMS, don't even think about turning it into a one-lane bridge, until the last, absolute possible option. Let's get in and try and fix it straightaway,'' Mr Brown said.

He said because Batemans Bay was not on a rail line, it was unlikely to ever have a heavy industrial area, and people preferred light industrial and a professional commercial sector.

''What we are trying to do is B-double [truck] access down the Kings Highway.

''At the moment large ones can't come down, therefore we pay a premium for our freight, especially our fruit and veg.

''We need about $12 million to fix the Kings Highway.

''If we sort that out it would make a huge difference to our community.''

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