Nowra bridge green light a win for our region

The Illawarra Business Chamber has welcomed the decision by Infrastructure Australia to approve the proposed new four-lane Nowra Bridge as a win for the wider regional economy.

The Princes Highway is the major north-south link between the economies of Sydney and southern NSW that also connects the Illawarra and the Shoalhaven. The existing highway crossing of the Shoalhaven River at Nowra comprises a steel bridge constructed in 1881 southbound and a concrete bridge built in 1981 northbound.

Over 51,000 vehicles use these bridges each day, causing peak hour traffic to slow to 16 km/h. Traffic growth is forecast at 1.4 percent per year which will result in travel speeds to slow to 7 km/h by 2038.

The Illawarra Business Chamber supports the NSW Government’s proposal to construct a new, four-lane bridge immediately to the west of the two existing bridges to carry northbound traffic at a total cost of $310 million; half of which has been committed by the Australian Government.

The role of Infrastructure Australia is to advise governments on the benefits of particular infrastructure projects and so in this case means that the contribution of the Australian Government has been given the ‘green light’. Further, it will see the project added to the Infrastructure Priority List meaning that it has satisfied a rigorous business case assessment and should therefore proceed.

Illawarra Business Chamber Executive Director Adam Zarth said that the entire region would benefit from the new bridge, and that the assessment by Infrastructure Australia demonstrated the significant economic benefits that would flow from its completion.

“Congestion on the Nowra section of the Princes Highway has been a major handbrake on the economies of the Illawarra and the Shoalhaven for some time, and this approval is a crucial step in resolving this,” said Mr Zarth.

“The economic benefits of this project are significant, and will included reduced travel time for locals to get to and from work, as well as increased tourist visitation and faster freight movements.”

“Infrastructure Australia supports the NSW Government’s assessment of the project as having a benefit cost ratio of 2.2, which has been mainly derived from travel time savings for passenger and freight vehicles, and the Chamber supports government funding for projects carrying a BCR of more than one.”

“Now it’s time to get on with construction, and I note the indicative timeline provided by government is commencement in the first quarter of 2021 and completion in the final quarter of 2024.”

/Public Release. View in full here.