• Tony Bosworth

Quick Explainer – the new North Richmond bridge



The Hawkesbury has been abuzz with news of the duplication and route for a new North Richmond bridge – but what does it mean for motorists and residents?



Here’s our overview…



What’s the story?

$500m - that's half a billion dollars - has been promised by the State and Federal governments to build a duplicate North Richmond bridge - part of what the State and Federal governments call a by-pass.

Residents turn up in their hundreds on Wednesday and try to get their voices heard at the first community information session


A duplicate? So it’s the same as the current bridge?

Not exactly – it will be six metres higher and a bit further down river.


Why are they building a duplicate bridge?

Traffic. At the moment 31,000 vehicles a day cross North Richmond bridge but that is set to increase, not least because of the growth in new homes at Redbank, and spot re-zonings across the whole area west of the river.


A flood-proof bridge?

No, but then we’re on a flood plain so to make it flood-proof would demand a road on stilts, like the Jim Anderson Bridge from Windsor – that would be even more expensive and visually might not be appreciated by residents. The proposed new bridge, at around 12m high, would be at a one-in-five flood height.


What’s the route?

The State government’s –Transport for NSW are managing the process – preferred route is what’s called the Green route. Our exclusive report published here in February revealed the route being considered under the then $250m budget (back then referred to as the hybrid route) and the background, but since then an additional $250m has been announced. So, TfNSW have tweaked it a bit so it starts just before Bells Line of Road enters North Richmond and then veers off to the left behind the Shell servo, crossing Terrace Road right next to the Last Round gym and then the river at the new bridge, taking over some of the polo fields and then curving around to cross Kurrajong Rd at a set of traffic lights before going down Inalls Lane, cutting off part of Colo Soccer Club’s grounds, and then running up alongside Southee Rd in Richmond before joining the Driftway.



The Green Route shown here is the preferred route chosen by Transport for NSW


Wow. So is everyone happy?

Far from it. It’s affecting several families who will lose their homes on Terrace Rd, Inalls Lane and Old Kurrajong Road, plus Colo Soccer Club players, polo club millionaires who are currently lawyering up, residents in North Richmond's Norfolk Place who are likely to suffer noise and pollution, and residents in Richmond’s Southee Rd who will lose their views, have years of construction noise and disruption, and face a massive increase in traffic noise.


Southee Rd residents are organising to get the route changed. The preferred route will see a major road running parallel to Southee Rd...


But the new route was shared with the community working group?

Only as one of the many options early in the process. It is the ‘preferred’ option of TfNSW, not of the community working group. While the community working group has been asking questions, reporting back to the community, giving input and advice to TfNSW for over two years, this new route was sprung on them and everyone else at a hastily called media conference held on the banks of the Hawkesbury River.


The view Southee residents have now. If the proposed route goes ahead they will be looking at a wall - of glass or concrete - or at the least a very busy and noisy road


Who was there at the media launch?

A veritable bevy of Liberals. The Prime Minister, the Premier, two State ministers, the Hawkesbury MP, the Liberal Senator for Western Sydney, a Federal Minister, and a single Hawkesbury councillor.


Councillor? You mean the Mayor?

No, he wasn’t there.


The Deputy Mayor?

No, she wasn’t invited.


What about the Federal Labor MP?

You mean Susan Templeman, MP for Macquarie. No she wasn’t invited either.


I smell an election…

Well, there are council elections in September and it’s thought likely the Federal election may be called for this October, so you could be right. At the last Federal Election the Liberal candidate made an announcement of $200m for the new bridge, so that’s now swelled to half a billion dollars announced by Liberal State and Federal government leaders at the media event.


What’s happened since the new bridge announcement?

TfNSW held a community information session on Wednesday evening. They didn’t expect the massive turnout (despite being warned by the community working group it would be large) – around 200 people – and were completely unprepared. As people queued outside the community centre and some shouted for officials to come out as darkness fell, they did come out and tried to answer concerned residents’ questions. The main point of interest was a show of hands revealed only three in the crowd appeared to support the preferred route. Almost everyone voted by a show of hands for the Purple Route.


Hundreds turned up at the first community information event on Wednesday


Oh, there’s another route?

There are several but the Purple Route is clearly a favourite with many, but not all, because it would partly go through the Redbank estate.


The estate that is contributing to some of the increase in traffic?

In part yes, which is one reason the Redbank developers had to agree to build another bridge across the Grose River.


There’s another bridge?

Yes, the so called ‘small bridge’ would cross the Grose River, allowing vehicles to access Springwood Rd and so avoid North Richmond all together. It would be useful for Redbank residents too.


Ashtons Road, Grose Vale - quiet at the moment, but it will be part of the route for a new Grose River bridge


Let’s talk timelines – what are they?

There are none.


What?

TfNSW have told the community working group previously they could have the duplicate bridge and route – the by-pass as they call it – open by 2026, but that seems very ambitious. At the media conference, NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance said construction would begin soon, but he didn’t reveal that construction (called Stage 1 in the route plan), would be along The Driftway, where routine road improvement and maintenance is already taking place.


Why?

It took more than a decade to plan and build the new Windsor Bridge. The Grose River Bridge – the small bridge – has been on the drawing board for a decade too, and there’s not even an agreed route for that yet.


I see. What happens next?

Today – Saturday – there was supposed to be another community information session in North Richmond, but it was cancelled by TfNSW yesterday. They said the no-show was due to concerns over Covid.


What about community feedback?

Glad you asked that. Feedback needed to be in by July 5 but that has now been extended to August 2. An online community session will also be held on the NSW Roads Facebook page at facebook.com/ NSW Roads on Monday, 28 June from 4pm-5pm. There's also a link here but it still says feedback needs to be in by July 5 - as we've said that has been extended to August 2.


What are the chances of TfNSW changing the route from Green to Purple?

Unlikely, given they have been working on this for a long time – years - and it is the State government’s preferred option. However, TfNSW project team members have told the community working group at a recent meeting, that TfNSW has changed preferred routes following community consultation previously, so anything is possible.






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