The Batemans Bay draw bridge is shut and will remain shut while the fires are active. The RMS justified the replacement of the bridge saying in August 2017 "Issues with the existing bridge include an annual maintenance cost of up to $1 million, no access for larger heavy vehicles due to weight and height restrictions, lack of reliable access across the Clyde River due to failures in operating the lift span and restricted access to the Clyde River for river vessels due to the bridge's height when the lift span is down. The lift span and nearby intersections cause long traffic queues during peak holiday periods. These issues can be increased due to the lift span’s occasional operational issues." The above is our first Furphy around HEIGHT restrictions and Weight Restrictions By the New South Wales Class 1 Load Carrying Vehicle Operator’s Guide there is NO Weight restriction for Clyde River Bridge other than being listed under 2.3. NSW Regional Zone – Bridge Mass Restrictions An eligible vehicle must not operate on the bridges set out in this Part unless the total mass of the vehicle does not exceed the lesser of: a) the mass limits prescribed by the Notice; or b) the applicable total mass limit that applies to a bridge as set out in this Part; or c) a sign-posted mass limit that applies to a bridge. Note that in months to come one hundred and sixty-six concrete bridge segments weighing 105 tonne each are to arrive at the new bridge site and around 60 per cent of the segments will be transported across the existing bridge onto the Kings Highway and along Old Punt Road, to be delivered to the northern construction area. From that it appears there is no weight restriction with the current bridge simply failing in the eyes of the RMS because it doesn't comply with the new Australian standard in their Batemans Bay Bridge Preferred route option report August 2017
As for height restriction the New South Wales Class 1 Load Carrying Vehicle Operator’s Guide says:
The Batemans Bay Bridge Preferred route option report August 2017 also very clearly stated: The existing Batemans Bay Bridge requires an upgrade to address the following issues: limited freight access due to restrictions for HML semi-trailers and B-double vehicles This is clearly FALSE from the above RMS own guides a height restriction of 5.1 metres for over-height vehicles This is clearly FALSE from the above RMS own guides bridge elements which are currently in poor condition with ongoing maintenance costs of up to $1 million annually NOTE: The RMS have stated: Routine inspections have identified structural and operational elements of the bridge as being in poor condition. These include corrosion of the piers, deck slab and steel trusses, deterioration of the protective paint system and an accumulation of damage to truss members from the impact of vehicles unreliable connectivity to essential services for all road users. This has an economic and social impact due to traffic delays and closures poor journey reliability and long traffic delays between Berrima Parade and Beach Road. There is little opportunity for future traffic growth without corridor and intersection improvements low road user safety due to the width of the bridge and existing traffic barriers lack of reliable access across the Clyde River due to the operation of the lift span and restricted access to the Clyde River for river vessels due to the bridge's height. With the exception of any yachts that might be caught out on the wrong side of the bridge and unable to get out the only inconvenience appears to be to the local tourist ferry. Furphy two: The bridge HAS TO remain open for the ferry and yachts. If you gave the yachts advice that they had a month to leave or get stuck up river they would leave pretty quick. They might argue it isn't constitutional but let them take it to the courts. By the time it is heard the new bridge would be up and they would have been stuck anyway. and as for the tourist ferry..... twice a day forcing the bridge to open.
Above: The original ferries were single deck and passed under the bridge without it having to open But does the bridge have to open? No. It could easily move its location upstream. Eurobodalla Council's Rob Pollock said three years ago in November 2016 "The current opening of the existing bridge causes significant delays to traffic on the Princes Highway, resulting in congestion on the highway and in Batemans Bay CBD. This also causes real concern relating to the provision of emergency services for those living north of the Bay." Councillor Rob Pollock asked that: 1. Council convene an urgent meeting with Roads and Maritime Services, Batemans Marine Park and NSW Fisheries and any other relevant parties with a view to establishing appropriate NSW Government owned wharf facilities on the western side of the Batemans Bay Bridge, thereby significantly reducing the need for consistent and disruptive opening of the Batemans Bay Bridge. 2. Council urge the Roads and Maritime Services to engage with the current users of the waterway to ensure the needs of operators are taken into account in developing solutions. The record states that Councillor Liz Innes declared an interest as family members operate marine vessels in the vicinity of the bridge. The Motion on being put was declared CARRIED. The big question is what did Council and the RMS do - NOTHING AT ALL. For the past three years it has been business as usual. This history is important to raise if the ferry operator is considering compensation for loss of business during the present bridge closures. Either the Council and RMS failed to "engage with the current users of the waterway to ensure the needs of operators are taken into account in developing solutions" or the "current users of the waterway" told them to bugger off. In the Batemans Bay Bridge Preferred route option report August 2017 it was put that "most boats are likely to stop downstream of the bridge and the extra funds for bridge clearance could be better used for greater water access to attract boats as a destination to the CBD" Furphy Three: The new bridge will be able to take 26m B-Doubles. FALSE Mr Constance on Friday, 18 May 2018 said that freight access will be improved south of the river, with larger trucks and B-doubles up to 26 metres in length to be able to cross the bridge. Fact 1. 26m B-Doubles are NOT allowed on the Princes Highway south of Nowra (see map below).
Fact 2. "Able to cross the bridge " .... The Batemans Bay bridge has been taking major loads far greater than any 26m B-Double load for years. In more recent times the girders for Dignams Creek and in months to come one hundred and sixty-six concrete bridge segments weighing 105 tonne each are to arrive at the new bridge site and around 60 per cent of the segments will be transported across the existing bridge onto the Kings Highway and along Old Punt Road, to be delivered to the northern construction area. On the RTA website regarding the Batemans Bay Bridge Project it states: Project benefits: - The new Batemans Bay Bridge would :improve freight access by enabling vehicles up to 26 metres in length across the river : address structural issues, reducing maintenance costs reduce economic and social impacts resulting from road closures and the current load limit Yet there is no CLEAR statement of any load limit for the bridge on any website. : manage the lift-span and improve nearby intersections to reduce traffic delays during peak periods. However there are NO load limits if you look at the National Heavy Vehicles data. Below: this map shows the allowable access of B-Double 26m
So the question is? Why have we rushed headlong into replacing the Batemans Bay Bridge if: It has no load limit It doesn't have to go up and down The local member for Bega said in May 2018 “Once the project is complete, the community will benefit from less congestion at key pinch points in and around Batemans Bay."
The key pinch points are the Kings Highway intersection with the Princes Highway and the Highway/ Beach Road intersection. The fact remains that while it might be possible to put more vehicles into a kilometre section of four lanes from the Kings Highway section to the pinch point just south of Beach Road once that kilometre section is filled and under the control of traffic lights traffic will do as it has always done and grind to a halt. And while that is only an opinion the other fact remains is that there has been no Local Traffic Flow investigation carried out on the financial repercussions to the Batemans Bay CBD with the loss of the southern foreshore access off-ramps that directed much needed tourism trade to the centre. While the new bridge is a terrific project and comes at a time where there is a need for a massive fiscal injection into the region it is important that the community is informed of the facts. It has been concerning that there has been misinformation on the justifications for the new bridge however by opening up and being transparent from the outset there would be no reason to consider the project to not be totally above board. It only requires a few discrepancies to place the bigger picture under scrutiny as well. It is accepted that routine inspections have identified structural and operational elements of the bridge as being in poor condition and that these include corrosion of the piers, deck slab and steel trusses, deterioration of the protective paint system and an accumulation of damage to truss members from the impact of vehicles.
The above is purely to document the ongoing history of the replacement of the old Batemans Bay bridge that includes 'justifications'. There are still some outstanding issues that remain around hydrological reports. No doubt we will hear more of those in the new year.