Frame Drive Bridge project given $2m boost

CLOSED: Frame Drive Bridge at AbermainNationals Duty Senator for Hunter John Williams has said Cessnock City Council will receive $2 million towards the cost of replacing Frame Drive Bridge at Abermain.

The sum was one of two major funding announcements for the Hunter in round two of the national Bridges Renewal Program, with another $2.2m allocated to turn the one-lane Fosters timber bridge on Sandy Creek Road at Mount Vincent into a two-lane bridge.

This is half the estimated money required to replace both bridges.

Muswellbrook Shire Council will receive $75,000 towards the $150,000 cost of strengthening the load limited on Williams Bridge at Martindale to enable access for heavy vehicles and emergency services.

The Frame Drive Bridge was closed in May due to damage from the April 2015 super storm. Initial estimates to upgrade the bridge were $3.9m, a sum that required government funding to reach.

Cessnock City Council announced on Monday that it planned to have the Frame Drive Bridge project shovel ready for when all the funding was available.

This included $100,000 allocated to investigation and design work.

“A detailed survey is complete and a review of environmental factors, including a flora and fauna assessment and geotechnical investigation is currently under way,” the statement said.

The bridge’s closure has caused upheaval for Abermain residents.

Frame Drive had become a busy connection to the township after the opening of the Hunter Expressway.

Drivers are now forced to travel through Weston, Sawyers Gully or unsealed Bathurst Street.

The council would not comment on a timeframe for the reopening of the bridge.

Abermain resident and creator of the “Fix our Frame Drive Bridge” Facebook page Chantelle Farnham is concerned that no estimate for reopening has been given.

“The closure of the bridge doesn’t just affect locals, people from neighbouring communities are also affected,” Ms Farnham said.

“Businesses in Abermain can no longer use that bridge for delivery purposes, parents that live on the Sawyers Gully side now need to go through Weston or Bathurst Street to get their children to Abermain primary school or Cessnock schools or to bus services in Abermain.

“All travel time is being affected and emergency services access is made longer.

“Surely someone in the council knows exactly how long the bridge renewal project would take – but they won’t tell us?”

Cessnock City Council said it planned to “bring Frame Drive up to a regional road standard, with no heavy vehicle restrictions, with the planned new bridge providing two traffic lanes with pedestrian access on both sides”.

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