Council's opposition to River Street Bridge About Getting Bang For Buck

When this Council was elected in September 2017 one of the biggest concerns we had was the proposed third bridge for Dubbo, and more specifically its location on River Street. I personally didn’t expect that three years later we would still find ourselves in the same position, with a bridge no one wants still on the table and with significant flaws that have wider ramifications for the community.

Council’s position on the bridge is clear. Our long-term traffic strategy has identified that a bypass or ring road around the city would be the best outcome for Dubbo. It would be able to act as a flood-proof option during serious floods like 2010, while also allowing heavy vehicles and Newell Highway traffic that isn’t visiting Dubbo to avoid driving straight through the city. It would solves problems now and for years to come.

Rest assured that Council isn’t just arguing for the sake of it. If River Street Bridge presented a solid solution for Dubbo now and into the future, it would have Council’s support. But we know this isn’t the case.

It doesn’t take traffic out of our CBD or release the pressure on the intersections of Whylandra and Victoria streets. And the bridge is such a band aid solution during flood events that an additional spillway has to be included to take traffic off local roads that are subject to flooding. A 545-metre long bridge that is expected to now cost $220 million doesn’t address the needs it was proposed to meet.

It still seems unthinkable to me that an extremely long bridge over the widest part of the river that puts traffic onto flood-prone roads is considered a good idea by the NSW Government. But that is exactly the situation we are in.

It would have disastrous consequences for Dubbo’s long-term future growth as well. The final draft design shows the road connecting the bridge to Thompson Street will go through the future North-West Dubbo Residential Urban Release Area. This road would be three metres high, despite not being located in a floodplain, and would destroy the appeal of the area for housing.

Council’s strategy is for this land, located less than a kilometre of the CBD, to become a residential hotpot including a premium riverside boulevard. Transport for NSW is aware of this but is unwilling to negotiate on the placement and design of its road.

Along with the lack of pedestrian access over the bridge, this is a terrible consequence of a poor design but there is no willingness by the government to negotiate or even acknowledge these flaws.

Last Friday I met with NSW Shadow Minister for Rural Roads, Rural Affairs and Western NSW Mick Veitch and he understands the concerns of Council and local residents. He also received 11,000 signatures from Dubbo residents opposed to the bridge and will present it to NSW Parliament so it can be debated.

It is frustrating that the government won’t realise its mistakes on this issue. Everyone says they are looking out for Dubbo’s interests but not everybody is backing that up with actions.

Last Edited: 04 Jan 2021

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