The goal of having safer roads to travel on in the Kempsey Shire was given a boost today, with the announcement that 56 timber bridges will be replaced under the NSW Government's $500 million Fixing Country Bridges program.
The program's aim is to connect regional communities and increase their resilience to natural disasters.
Resident of Belmore River, Anne Fraser, said the replacement of timber bridges in the area is a relief for locals.
"I use Buchanans bridge everyday and we've been hoping and waiting for this for 20 years," she said.
"The school bus also uses this bridge and having a stronger and more stable bridge will help in emergency situations and in floods."
Member for Oxley Melinda Pavey said replacing old timber bridges means improved community connections to schools, towns and jobs; allows easier movement of freight, and delivers better outcomes for road safety.
"This has been three and a half years in the making and for Kempsey Shire to get the funding to replace 56 old timber bridges is incredible," she said.
"I'm glad that in the Oxley electorate alone, we're going to see 113 bridges replaced under this new round of funding because I know what a difference they'll make to entire communities."
The new concrete bridges will allow heavy truck loads, and improve access and safety for farmers, industry and locals.
Kempsey Shire Mayor Liz Campbell said the funding is a great result due to many years of hard work.
"Kempsey has been working for many years alongside other councils in our Mid North Coast Joint Organisation to pursue funding to replace timber bridges," she said.
"Many of the timber bridges are sadly showing the signs of age, weather and the impact of fires and floods and to be able to move forward with our plan to replace them with new, improved bridges is fantastic.
"These new bridges will make a huge difference to the lives of so many in the shire through increased safety, reliability and peace of mind."
Funding of more than $52 million will go towards replacing 113 bridges throughout the whole Oxley electorate.
Council's Director Operations Robert Fish said the replacement of the bridges will create construction jobs over the next two years.
"A lot of the work will be contracted as well as council taking on some of the jobs, so there will be the creation of jobs involved in this project," he said.
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