Portfolio Committee No. 5 - Industry and Transport
Inquiry into Windsor Bridge replacement project
The evidence from the Roads and Maritime Services for the replacement of the Windsor Bridge is clear from their Business Case;
“Deterioration in the existing bridge leading to possible load limits and eventual closure…the existing bridge and approach roads fail to meet current engineering and safety standards…the existing bridge has lower flood immunity than the surrounding roads…traffic performance and capacity...is inadequate and the predicted growth in traffic using this river crossing indicates further deterioration in the levels of service.”
The Business case also goes on to describe the new bridge will provide ‘a unified open space in Thompson Square...”
Most importantly the new bridge will lead to “improved safety for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.”
The consequence for continued delay of the bridge replacement is a failed or restricted use bridge causing catastrophic inconvenience for the community of Hawkesbury.
Decision paralysis and underinvestment by the previous Labor Government has already led to significant cost increases for this infrastructure project and on-going inconvenience and uncertainty.
In the Inquiry, RMS confirmed the cost blow out impacts other important road and maritime investment across the State.
The RMS Business Case states in its Project Objectives;
“Replace the existing bridge which has reached the end of its economic life with a new bridge with a design life of years”.
The Case forecasts rising maintenance costs;
“…necessitate significant remedial works to keep the operational…Bridge closure would result in the loss of an important crossing of the Hawkesbury River, with severe impacts on local and regional connectivity.”
Political representatives have to be held accountable. Labor and Greens members of the Committee voted in the Report meeting to immediately stop work on the bridge replacement.
I sought to hold Hawkesbury City Council Labor Councillor Peter Reynolds and Federal Member for Macquarie Susan Templeman MP to account.
I proposed “…it is unfortunate the issue has been hijacked for political ends at local, state and federal levels. Clr Peter Reynolds and Susan Templeman MP need to reflect on their strategy of putting their Party and personal political priorities ahead of safety and long overdue infrastructure investment.”
Labor and Greens members of the Committee failed to support the amendment.
The move by Labor and Greens to stop work on the new Windsor Bridge would be a disaster for the Hawkesbury and lower Blue Mountains region. It would contribute to further traffic congestion.
If Labor and Greens had been or were to be successful in stopping this project it is unlikely there would be any alternative infrastructure planned or built for many years.
As we saw in the Inquiry, projects of this scale and complexity require a long period of consultation and planning. We took evidence construction costs are escalating, therefore any alternative would have higher expenses. This leads to uncertainty within RMS and NSW Treasury about funding priorities.
The NSW Liberal National Government is committed to replacing the Windsor Bridge as outlined in the RMS Final Business Case. This gives certainty to the community and has tangible economic and environmental benefits.
Scot MacDonald MLC