Message from the Mayor - 13 November 2020

Dungog Shire Council has recently applied for $18.7M to replace 24 deteriorating timber bridges across the shire, under the NSW Government’s Fixing Country Bridges program.

We are one of many local councils in regional NSW currently maintaining more than 1,800 timber bridges across the state, some of which are more than 100 years old. Maintenance of these deteriorating structures is one of the largest ongoing costs for councils in regional and rural areas.

The Fixing Country Bridges program provides funding to councils to replace these timber bridges, and therefore reduce maintenance costs and improve safety and accessibility.

Our applications follow an election commitment of $16M from Member for Upper Hunter, Mr Michael Johnsen, in February 2019, to replace all of the timber bridges in the Dungog Shire Council LGA. We are now hoping these funds can be realised through these applications.

There are specific criteria a bridge must meet to be eligible for funding under the program. These criteria state the project must be:

  • Located on roads owned and managed by council;
  • Appropriate for replacement (not maintenance); and
  • Identifiable as a priority or important asset to communities, and for the local government area or region.

The funding does not extend to non-timber bridges, those on non-council roads or any heritage-listed or truss bridges.

Under the program, many projects will be a direct replacement of timber structures with modular concrete bridging systems, maintaining existing attributes such as number of lanes and spans.

In some cases, improved asset replacement will occur where benefits including increased load capacity, improved access to services and industry, or enhanced road alignments can be proven.

As part of our applications, we’re calling on the NSW Government to extend the lifespan of the replacement program to five years, instead of two, to allow for better resourcing, reduced risks and a higher level of expertise to successfully complete these essential replacements.

We are waiting to hear on the success of our Fixing Country Bridges applications before Christmas, and hope to have good news to share with you all regarding these infrastructure improvements across our shire.

For any seeking to get in touch, remember to please contact me via phone 4995 7777 or email shirecouncil@dungog.nsw.gov.au - I look forward to hearing from you.

We’re all in this together.

JOHN CONNORS
Mayor

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