THE new Avon River Bridge at Stratford will be built to the north of the current structure.
Deputy Prime Minister and federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Michael McCormack and state Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan have unveiled the alignment of the new bridge, which will allow trains to travel at up to 90 kilometres per hour.
“We’re really excited to unveil the preferred alignment for the new Avon River Bridge, following extensive investigations,” Mr McCormack said.
“A great amount of work has gone into determining the early design of the new bridge, including geotechnical, cultural, environmental and hydrological assessments.”
Ms Allan said the new Avon River rail bridge would be built on the north side of the existing bridge and south of the Princes Highway road bridge.
“The preferred alignment for the new bridge has been chosen because it offered the fastest train speeds, smoothest ride for passengers, and would produce the least disruption to rail services during construction,” she said.
The release of the alignment coincides with the beginning of a three-week consultation period to gather feedback on the project from local residents.
“Stratford locals and residents of the surrounding communities will get a first-hand look at the plans for this much-needed upgrade next week,” Ms Allan said.
“Passengers on the Bairnsdale line will benefit the most from this project, so they will be consulted at every step of the way.”
Gippsland MHR Darren Chester said the consultation period would include an information session in Stratford on Tuesday, August 21, between 4pm and 7pm at the Stratford Mechanics Hall, where locals can meet members of the Gippsland Line Upgrade project team and discuss the project.
“Rail Projects Victoria has also nominated the existing Avon River Bridge for addition to the Victorian Heritage Register, to acknowledge its historical significance to the community. Heritage Victoria will provide opportunities for the local community to provide feedback as it considers the heritage value of the bridge,” Mr Chester said.
There will also be a pop-up stall at the Stratford IGA next Friday, August 31, from 11am to 2pm. People will be able to meet the project team, view the concept design for the new bridge and have their say at these sessions.
Eastern Victoria MLC Harriet Shing said the upgrade would deliver more reliable services on this section of the Gippsland line.
“Community feedback will be an important part in developing the design of the new bridge,” she said.
“All trains including the new VLocity services will be able to travel faster on this bridge – that means reduced travel times and better services for passengers,” Ms Shing said.
The $95 million project is part of the $530 million Gippsland Rail Line Upgrade, which will deliver improvements to passengers along the entire line.
The target completion date for the new Avon River Bridge is early 2021.
The Gippsland Rail Line Upgrade is part of the $1.75 billion Regional Rail Revival Package, which will upgrade every regional passenger train line in Victoria, creating more than 1000 jobs. The Regional Rail Revival Package is a joint initiative of the Australian and Victorian governments.
Information about the project and how people can have their say is available at regionalrailrevival.vic.gov.au/gippsland.