• Tony Bosworth

Grose River Bridge set to be delayed even longer – 2025 at least before traffic flows

The so-called ‘small bridge’ which Redbank developers had to agree to fund as part of the go-ahead for their sprawling housing estate, is likely to be pushed even further into the future despite a near decade of waiting.

At Tuesday’s upcoming council meeting, councillors will be discussing whether to move the goalposts yet again, so pushing out the timetable for the new bridge even further.

Partly that's due to - so council staff say - "the considerable scope of new investigations and document preparation required to lodge the application and obtain approval of the Grose River Bridge in its alternative location".

The plan is for the proposed new bridge to cross the Grose River at Yarramundi, just up from Navua Reserve after crossing the Ashtons Rd junction, allowing Redbank locals, as well as other residents, to use it for a quicker route to Penrith and the Blue Mountains, avoiding potential traffic snarls in North Richmond.

Once opened it will also take some pressure off the recently announced $500m new North Richmond duplicate bridge and route – though that one has no timeframe.

But since the Voluntary Planning Agreement (VPA) relating to the new small bridge was signed with Redbank back in November 2014, the trigger points of ex-number of plots being sold or registered – so the developers have sufficient funds for the potentially $23.8m bridge – have changed, and keep being stretched out.

Ashtons Rd junction - peaceful now but eventually will get much busier

Under the terms of the VPA, the developer has to fund the bridge build, whatever the eventual cost. The only get out is if a development application cannot go through for some reason. If that happens, 95% of the $23.8m will be paid by Redbank to the state government’s Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) with no guarantee it would be spent on a bridge, and 5% to Hawkesbury Council.

According to the council meeting business papers released today, council staff will be recommending on Tuesday evening that councillors vote to amend the trigger points – the number of home sites registered – upwards again, pushing out the timetable for delivery of the bridge.

Reasons for this are also down to the favoured route having led to more investigations and document preparation, plus arranging acquisitions of parts of three properties, which TfNSW is negotiating – so the whole process is taking longer than expected.

It's been costing the developer money too, at least $800,000 so far in legal and investigation fees, plus paperwork and surveys.

The trigger points to get the bridge build underway have already been amended twice before, once on June 27, 2017 and then again on December 11, 2018.

This time, council staff are recommending the first “milestone” - when developer funds will increasingly go towards the bridge development and build, including application paperwork, detailed design and various studies - be changed from 701 to 801 units at Redbank registered - so very much the first stage of actually planning the build in detail - is moved to an anticipated date of June 2023.

'Preparation of construction documentation' period would be moved from 821 to 865 units, which the report to council says means an anticipated date of December 2023 for that element.

The actual construction and “practical completion” of the bridge would then likely be 2025 at the earliest, says the report.

So far, 658 lots of land have been registered at Redbank with a further 254 lots granted development consent – that’s 912 lots in total.

Yesterday – Thursday – Redbank put a social media post up saying, “with only 33 blocks left across the estate, and no new land being released to the market for another 12 months minimum, this is your chance to get in and call Redbank home!”

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