Traffic restrictions over the Tarro rail bridge will remain in place for at least four more weeks while essential repair work is underway.
The bridge has now been closed to oversize vehicles and any that weigh 69 tonnes and over which is about 100 vehicle movements per day.
Engineering analysis of the structural issues on the columns is ongoing as we head into the second week of road restrictions causing traffic chaos.
Maitland MP and Regional Roads Minister Jenny Aitchison said she knows it is incredibly frustrating.
“I’d like this to have been fixed well before now let’s be honest. I know the community is really struggling with this, and I’m really very sympathetic to that but of course safety has to be the first priory. This is not a ‘we would like to do it’, this is critical safety work, we will spend the money that needs to be spent.
“This is a really difficult situation for everyone in the community, we’re really aware of that. It’s a massive economic and social disruption to our region. I’ve been talking to all of the MPs, the mayors, the general managers of impacted councils to ensure that they’re aware of what’s happening. But at the end of the day, we must prioritise safety. That’s the first step.
“We know there are some people who don’t have a choice, they must get to appointments for medical or for education, or for work that they just can’t find another way – we know that. But anyone who doesn’t need to be on that road, whatever the size of vehicle, we’re saying, please, can you find another way? Can you delay your travel? Can you work from home?”
Transport for NSW Director, North, Anna Zyzki said they are urging drivers to make alternative arrangements if they can.
“We are finalising the design and work schedules and are working through the issues to get workers onto the bridge safely while keeping vital road and rail services operating as best as possible.
“We again apologise for the inconvenience the lane restrictions are causing, and thank road users and the local community for their patience as we do everything we can to ensure everyone completes their journeys safely.”
Transport for NSW also advises that there is no detour for heavy vehicles greater than 5.2 metres in height and/or wider than 7.5 metres and/or greater than 35 metres in length.
For all other restricted heavy vehicles, the detour arrangements are via Newcastle Inner City Bypass and Newcastle Link Road.