Gundagai Historical Bridges FAQs

Why is the Prince Alfred Bridge (Gundagai Road Bridge) being removed?

The Prince Alfred Bridge (timber road viaduct) is a timber road viaduct which has not operated since 1984 and has not been required for transport since that time.

The timber road viaduct has deteriorated extensively and is in very poor condition, creating a significant public safety risk, which will only increase as it continues to deteriorate.

The NSW Government is monitoring the Murrumbidgee River water levels, rain predictions and dam water releases as engineering advice shows a major 1-in-5-year flood (over 7.1m on the Gundagai River Gauge) could further damage the bridge and potentially cause downstream damage to public and private property.

When will the timber road viaduct be removed?

Works to remove the timber road viaduct are expected to begin in November 2021, with its quick removal necessary to protect the habitat of bats, who begin to breed in the timber structure during December.

As part of this, bat boxes will be installed in the vicinity of the bridge to provide additional roosting points as an adaptive measure as the bridge is removed.

The timber road viaduct must also be removed urgently as its poor condition makes it vulnerable to further collapse, particularly following heavy rain events, or in the event of a flood.

Is the entire Prince Alfred bridge being removed?

No, the timber road viaduct is the only section of this structure being removed due to the reasons listed above. The road abutment at both ends of the timber road viaduct are heritage-listed and will remain in place.

Spans 1 - 67 are being removed from the timber road viaduct, which excludes the spans 21 - 25 which were removed earlier this year over O I Bell Drive.

The span over the Murrumbidgee River that provides access between Gundagai and South Gundagai is also remaining.

Why can't the timber road viaduct be replaced or fixed?

It is not economically or environmentally feasible to restore the timber road viaduct given the high cost, the requirement for large unsustainable amounts of timber, future ownership and maintenance requirements, and a lack of public need for the disused bridge.

Instead, the NSW Government will engage with the community to seek their ideas for memorial options to celebrate the timber road viaduct.

What has happened to the timber road viaduct to make this so urgent?

The timber road viaduct is in poor condition and continues to deteriorate, creating a public safety risk.

The NSW SES reported on 6 August 2021 that a section of the timber road viaduct had fallen at its southern end. Heavy rain in the area over winter increased the weight of bridge timber due to moisture retention, which is suspected to have caused this section to fail.

There is further risk of other sections of the timber road viaduct also failing, including the potential for significant collapse if there is a flood across the floodplain.

Were any experts consulted before this decision was made?

The NSW Government engaged an independent engineering consultant to prepare a comprehensive assessment on the timber road viaduct’s condition, which showed significant structural defects and safety issues.

Based on this advice, the NSW Government has concluded that the timber road viaduct must be removed as soon as possible to protect public safety.

Ongoing consultations on the timber road viaduct have occurred through a working group including representatives from Crown Lands, Transport for NSW, Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council, Gundagai Historic Bridges Inc, the National Trust, Engineers Australia, Heritage NSW and Department of Premier and Cabinet.

What actions are you taking to protect the environment and animal welfare?

The NSW Government has completed a Review of Environmental Factors (REF), which examines and considers all matters affecting or likely to affect the environment as a result of the proposed removal of the timber road viaduct.

As a part of the REF, a Bat Management Plan has also been developed as bats are known to roost and breed in the timber road viaduct throughout the year. A heritage impact statement, notification and consultation with the community will also be carried out as part of the development of the REF.

Will the Gundagai-Cootmundra community be consulted on how the bridge is remembered?

The NSW Government is conducting community engagement via a survey to gather ideas from the Gundagai community on memorial interpretation options for the timber road viaduct. The survey is available at Gundagai Prince Alfred Bridge - Have your say until 31 October, 2021.

The NSW Government is working with the Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council at all stages of the project to ensure community members have access to information and are kept updated as plans progress.

Is the timber road viaduct listed on the State Heritage Register?

The timber road viaduct which is being removed is not listed on the State Heritage Register but is considered to be of local heritage significance.

The operational section of Prince Alfred Bridge over the Murrumbidgee River, as well as the disused rail viaduct, are both State Heritage-listed and are being retained.

Heritage interpretation options for the timber road viaduct will be developed in consultation with the community, Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council and other key stakeholders.

We will work with the community to ensure the timber road viaduct is appropriately memorialised for future generations.

With what will the timber road viaduct be replaced?

The NSW Government has provided a survey for the community to provide their ideas for heritage interpretation options for the timber road viaduct. The survey is available at Gundagai Prince Alfred Bridge - Have your say until 31 October, 2021.

How will the heritage interpretation project be funded?

A business case to seek government funding for a heritage interpretation option will be developed as a priority following community and stakeholder feedback.

Who is managing the project?

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment – Crown Lands (Crown Lands) and Transport for NSW are working collaboratively on this project, as the relevant landowners.

Community residents with questions or requests regarding the removal of the timber road viaduct are advised to contact Crown Lands for further information on the project at wagga.crownlands@crownland.nsw.gov.au.

What is being done to protect public safety?

Public safety is our priority, so we are moving quickly to secure necessary planning approvals to dismantle the timber road viaduct.

We are working with the Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council to inform the community of risks and next steps.

In order to keep the community safe, signage has been erected around the viaduct alerting the public to the risks and fencing has been installed to control public access near the viaduct.

Works were undertaken on the timber road viaduct in December 2020 to place screens above O I Bell Drive for safety reasons. A section of the timber road viaduct over O I Bell Drive was removed in April 2021, following a collapse of timber.

What does the project team plan to do with the timber and other materials once dismantled?

Unfortunately, due to the poor condition of the timber and potential contamination, there is unlikely to be material available for reuse or recycling.

However, if any usable material is identified it will be stored for potential future reuse, (depending on what the community tells us they would like as a memorial interpretation). Waste material from the timber road viaduct will be transported to the nearest waste facility depending on contamination levels.