A MOVE to allow road train access over Carrathool Bridge during cotton season has been welcomed by NSW Farmers.
The state government’s decision, approved by the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), will improve access to the RivCott Gin.
NSW Farmers’ regional services manager south west, Simone Norrie, said the association had been pushing for the changes to improve safety and productivity.
“RMS was contacted in mid May and to already have a solution in July is a fantastic outcome,” Miss Norrie said.
“They had to cover a lot of bases in that time and they have committed to allowing access – with conditions – until August 31, 2016 and this will then be reviewed again prior to the start of the cotton season next year.”
In order to provide this access, RMS has fitted the bridge with strain gauges to monitor the stresses and the condition of the bridge to ensure it is able to safely sustain the higher mass.
CCTV monitors have also been installed to monitor crossings, and a minimum axle spacing requirement has been imposed to ensure load is distributed sustainably over the bridge.
Roads and Maritime Services will grant conditional approval for Type 1 A-double road trains to operate over the bridge at a total mass of up to 75 tonnes.
Access will be granted under permit only for the remainder of the current cotton harvest in order to monitor the condition and health of the bridge.
Subject to the bridge performing satisfactorily, access will also be granted during the 2017 harvest period.
Murrumbidgee Shire Council confirmed Carrathool Road, on the southern side of the Carrathool Bridge to the Sturt Highway, was an approved road train route.
Carrathool Shire Council (who is responsible for roads on the northern side of the Carrathool Bridge) confirmed at a council meeting a recommendation was passed that council gazette Murrumbidgee River Road, Carrathool and Bringagee Road as to permit road trains on them for the cotton harvest.
Miss Norrie said NSW Farmers advised transport operators to contact both councils to ensure the roads have access, or are gazetted, in the period they wished to use them.
Federal and state members Michael McCormack and Adrian Piccoli announced $15 million in joint funding for a new bridge in March, 2015.