Community information sessions held in Stratford for new Avon River rail bridge

Construction of a new railway bridge in Stratford over the Avon River will commence shortly. As the map shows, the new bridge will be built alongside the current crossing, which has been heritage listed. Welcoming the project are CPB Contracttors project manager Todd Ferguson, Rail Projects Victoria representative Suzannah Seaholme-Rolan, Sale resident Ros Berry and Rail Project Victoria representative Emma Steele.
Construction of a new railway bridge in Stratford over the Avon River will commence shortly. As the map shows, the new bridge will be built alongside the current crossing, which has been heritage listed. Welcoming the project are CPB Contracttors project manager Todd Ferguson, Rail Projects Victoria representative Suzannah Seaholme-Rolan, Sale resident Ros Berry and Rail Project Victoria representative Emma Steele.

STRATFORD residents learned about the new rail bridge, to be built over the Avon River, at community sessions held in town last week.

Rail Projects Victoria will build the $95 million bridge as part of the half-a-billion-dollar Gippsland Line Upgrade.

The bridge will allow for greater efficiency and punctuality, as trains will be able to travel at up to 90 kilometres per hour, rather than the 10kmh speed they are limited to on the existing bridge.

CPB Contractors has been appointed to design and construct the new bridge, and has secured a location in Stratford to establish site offices for the upcoming build.

Residents and interested onlookers will be able to see the bridge being built via a number of viewing platforms, to be established once construction gets under way.

The new bridge will be closer to the township, with only about 30 metres between the new and old bridge at its widest point.

At the information sessions, people met some of the members of the project team, heard about the enterprise and learnt what to expect over the coming months as construction begins.

The existing heritage listed bridge is more than 130 years old, and locals hope to see it preserved and recognised as a historical landmark.

Gippsland Plains Rail Trail committee member and Stratford neighbourhood house coordinator Beth Ripper said there was an expectation people would still be able to use the old bridge in some capacity.

"To have a walking loop out to Stratford that incorporates the old bridge would be a win-win for the community," she said.

"It's got serious heritage listing, but also a lot of people know that it's an important landmark for Stratford.

"Functionally, the old bridge is past its use-by date and there's been some great responses to the community consultations because people were surprised at how much commitment there is to local jobs and local contractors being used."

Drivers can expect to see increased activity near the existing bridge before construction gets underway, including geotechnical investigations, non-destructive digging and the construction of temporary access tracks.

Construction on the new bridge will begin later this year, with a target completion date of early 2021.

Regional Rail Revival director Mark Havryluk said he looked forward to work beginning on the project.

"This project is a huge investment for the region and we want to make sure it brings benefits for local businesses as well as passengers," he said.

"Information sessions were well-attended by local contractors and suppliers, as well as the Stratford community, and we're looking forward to seeing them get involved in building this vitally important piece of infrastructure."

The Gippsland Line Upgrade, part of the $1.75 billion Regional Rail Revival, is expected to deliver 400 jobs and improve train services for passengers.

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