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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Main Roads and Local Government
    The Honourable Warren Pitt

    Work starts on new $48 million Mulgrave River bridge

    Minister for Main Roads and Local Government
    The Honourable Warren Pitt

    Thursday, May 29, 2008

    Work starts on new $48 million Mulgrave River bridge

    Work officially commenced today on construction of the new $48 million Mulgrave River bridge at Gordonvale.

    Main Roads Minister Warren Pitt and the Federal Member for Leichhardt Jim Turnour turned the first sod of soil and planted the first of 5000 native trees at the site in an event to mark the launch of the project.

    The new, higher-level bridge is designed to improve flood immunity during the wet season and will stand five metres higher than the present bridge.

    Mr Turnour represented the Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Anthony Albanese, at the event.

    Mr Turnour said the project was another example of the way in which the federal and state governments had collaborated to move a significant infrastructure project off the drawing board and into its construction phase.

    "The new 475-metre bridge is part of our joint commitment to improving accessibility between Cairns and Townsville, and is one component of the $348 million Accelerated Bruce Highway Upgrade Package," Mr Turnour said.

    "The bridge will not only stand higher but be located about 30 metres upstream from the existing highway on an improved road alignment."

    Mr Turnour said the federally funded Auslink project would result in a range of benefits for the community, including improved flood immunity at the Mulgrave River crossing of the Bruce Highway, which would reduce the duration of closures during wet season flooding.

    The project would also include upgrades to the road lanes approaching the bridge and the relocation of the existing cane railway line.

    Mr Pitt congratulated the Australian Government on the bridge project, saying the new bridge would provide a valuable and vital piece of road infrastructure.

    "The Auslink program has allowed both governments to work on a co-ordinated series of projects designed to make the Bruce Highway safer and more flood-immune into the future,” Mr Pitt said.

    "As a local resident for many years, I have experienced first-hand the inconvenience of highway closures due to wet season flooding.

    "The completion of the new bridge will help sustain the highway in times of flooding by limiting closures. This will better serve to stabilise the local economy by keeping communities connected all year round."

    Some 5,000 native seedlings will be planted in and around the project area in the coming months, to offset the removal of vegetation necessary for the construction of the new bridge.

    Main Roads has contracted the Mulgrave Landcare and Catchment Group to carry out the planting and to maintain the new plants over the coming 18 months.

    "The Mulgrave River riparian corridor has environmental significance as it contributes to connectivity between the western Bellenden Ker mountain range and eastern Malbon Thompson mountain range sections of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area," Mr Pitt said.

    "Given it is also home to the southern cassowary, it was important that measures were put in place, during design and construction of the bridge, to maintain habitat integrity along the river channel as much as possible."

    Construction of the new bridge is expected to be completed by Christmas 2009, weather permitting.

    Media contact: Minister Pitt’s Office 3227 8819