Standby for a bridge before the bridge

TO start off this new year right, the Derwent Valley Gazette is making sure you’re up to date with current work on the new Bridgewater Bridge. It’s a three-quarter-billion dollar project that will change our part of the world, and bring opportunities well into the future.

On Page 2 of the paper and our Facebook page, we’re going to watch construction and let you know what you’re seeing as you travel the Lyell or Midlands highways.

You keep an eye out, and we’ll tell you what’s going on.

The first thing to know is that two bridges are going to be built at Bridgewater. Yes, two. Let’s clarify. Before the new concrete structure can go up, a separate steel bridge is being built from the northern shore, and connected via 12 barges to the southern side.

If you’re going to or from the Derwent Valley, or the Midlands, you’ll see that temporary bridge start to appear in the next weeks on the downstream side of the existing bridge. Why a bridge before the bridge?

Think of it as the scaffolding around a building, a solid work platform from which to construct the actual permanent bridge.

Primary contractor McConnell Dowell is expecting to take two full years to complete that part of the job, with the bridge open to traffic by the end of 2024. When finished, the Bridgewater Bridge itself will be 1300 metres in length, slightly shorter than the Tasman Bridge in Hobart at 1396 metres, but longer than the Bowen Bridge which comes in at 976 metres.

And while we’re talking numbers, the soon-to-be temporary bridge is actually the fifth to be built across the Derwent River at this point. That makes the 2024 edition Number Six.