The planned $140 million River Street Bridge across the Macquarie River has become a bone of much contention for Dubbo residents, who voiced their concerns loud and clear during a petition handover ceremony at Wiradjuri Park in Dubbo on 29 October.
At the ceremony, Dubbo mayor Ben Shields discussed why the Dubbo Regional Council was against a bridge at River Street but supported a Troy Bridge bypass.
The ‘Stop The River Street Bridge’ Facebook group has revealed it has received over 10,000 signatures on its petition for the planned bridge to be moved to Troy Bridge Road, as it believes this is the better option for flood immunity and to reduce congestion.
“The reason that we started the petition was because many members of the public were angry and needed an avenue in which to redirect their anger into positive action. Also, many members of the public were still unaware of how unsuitable the location chosen for the new Newell Highway bridge was and how it would cause far more problems than it would solve,” said petition organiser Karina McLachlain at the ceremony, labelling the River Street proposal “a disaster waiting to happen”.
“We did not want people to wake the day after the new bridge opened, faced with worse traffic or to find the bridge inaccessible in a flood due its submerged approach roads and think ‘I wish I had taken more notice of this project when we still had a chance to stop it’.”
According to McLachlain, the NSW Government announced River Street as its preferred location without community consultation. “As a national highway, the A39 extends from Queensland to Victoria. The Newell is important to the economies of Brisbane, Melbourne and many towns and cities in between. The road transport industry that uses the Newell is directly affected by what happens in Dubbo and yet they have been excluded from consideration,” she said.
“When I went to the Bathurst Truck show last year to speak to drivers, they only needed to hear the words “bypass for Dubbo” before they were almost snatching the petition out of my hand in their race to sign it. I collected 380 signatures that day.
“Hundreds of people from Narromine have also signed the petition and they have every right to do so. Hundreds of interstate trucks that are avoiding Dubbo’s congestion are detouring through their town and they are objecting.”
McLachlain also made it very clear that the group weren’t trying to improve the current design of the River Street Bridge. “It can’t be done,” she said. “Sending pedestrians and cyclists onto a bridge with no safety barriers is only luring them to their deaths. Trying to design flood detours to get traffic around the flooded approach roads will only send the traffic onto other flooded roads or further impede traffic flow for the already grid-locked LH Ford Bridge.”