The Victorian Nationals leader and Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh has written to Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack calling for his intervention in getting “the show on the road and a start date” for the new Swan Hill bridge.
Mr Walsh said everyone knows the existing bridge is “way past its due-by date” but nothing seems to be happening.
He told Mr McCormack money was being wasted every year on expensive maintenance of a single-lane bridge – and that has to stop.
“In April 2019 the Deputy Prime Minister announced the Federal Government would put $60 million into the project and the mayors of both Swan Hill Rural City and Murray River Council have called on me to write to the Victorian Government about its reluctance to provide any information on a timeline as to when work will start,” Mr Walsh said.
“The response I have had to date from Victoria has been too vague and lacking in any serious detail to give even the slightest hint of this long overdue project getting off the ground.
“I have asked Mr McCormack that with his position in the Government – and as a funding partner of the project – he needs to get Victoria to the table and give me something positive to tell the mayors and the thousands of ratepayers and residents about their futures.”
Mr Walsh said a two-way bridge would have an immediate and positive effect on the region and that kind of news was invaluable in the current COVID-19 climate.
He said the silence from Spring Street was not good enough and “the communities concerned deserve much better”.
“The current bridge was built in 1896 and it has been a faithful servant of the region; but its usefulness has long gone and pouring millions into it over the years, as band-aid measures to keep it functioning, is a waste of both time and money,” Mr Walsh added.
“The time has come to move forward; and I am calling on Mr McCormack to pull the three parties together and let us know when work on the bridge will start – along with clarification as to who will be the managing authority on this vital infrastructure project.
“I don’t think it is unreasonable to insist we have something concrete as soon as possible.”