Shire notes with councillor Josh Brown

Over the course of many years the condition of the Murulla Street causeway connecting the two sides of Murrurundi over the Pages River has been a source of concern for residents. It has deteriorated in large part because of its regular use by trucks and other very large vehicles accessing the northern railway line from the highway.

When I was running for Council at the 2016 election, the condition and safety of the causeway was constantly raised with me and I am pleased that Council is preparing to construct a replacement for this essential transport connection.

Locals know that when the Pages River is running high, the existing causeway is often closed.

Its constant use by trucks that it was not designed to carry, has led to a situation where frequent maintenance is required to keep the causeway and its approaches along Murulla Street safe and usable by traffic.

Last year Upper Hunter Shire Council and Muswellbrook Shire Council put forward a joint submission for funding under the NSW Government's Restart NSW Resources for Regions program for a proposed Upper Hunter Regional Mine Affected Roads package, which included a solution to the perennial issues arising from the Murulla Street causeway.

The argument was that the condition of the causeway was significantly degraded by the impact of trucks associated with the maintenance of the railway, which carries significant volumes of the coal produced in NSW. The Resources for Regions program is designed to ameliorate the impacts of the mining industry on affected communities.

The application was successful, and Council is in the detailed planning stages for the construction of a two lane, concrete bridge to replace the causeway. The new bridge will increase safety, and reduce maintenance, closure costs and inconvenience to road users. Two options have been identified, a high level and a low level bridge.

An important consideration in the design will be preserving the aspect and place of Murrurundi's Swinging Bridge, which was built in 1927 and is listed as an item of regional heritage significance. During the construction period, access to the Swinging Bridge will be closed and Council will use the opportunity to undertake maintenance work.

It is expected that construction will commence in October of this year to be completed in mid-2020.

Council is currently seeking the views of the community until 10 May 2019 on the proposed bridge designs.