It’s half way to the other side. The long-awaited Nepean River walking bridge, connecting Emu Plains to Penrith, is on target for completion by October/November – weather permitting.
The structure reached halfway across the river on Tuesday [March 6]. Member for Penrith, Stuart Ayres, said the community will soon be able to enjoy the new pedestrian and cyclist bridge, with more than 70 per cent of work now completed.
The planned new $49m bridge will be accessed from Punt Road in Emu Plains and near the old Log Cabin site at Penrith.
It fulfils a promise Liberal MP for Penrith Stuart Ayres made when he stood at a by-election in 2010.
The bridge is 100 metres across the Nepean River and still has 100 metres to go before it reaches the pier on the western side of the river, Mr Ayres said.
Once built the steel bridge will have the largest main span – at 200 metres – for a shared bridge in Australia. The closest bridge competing for the title is the Swan River in Western Australia with a main span of 160 metres.
“Crews have already completed four launches to get the bridge to its final destination and this launch marks the halfway point across the iconic Nepean River,” Mr Ayres said.
“As the segments are pushed across the river, crews are still working hard behind the scenes in the temporary workshop to put the remaining bridge components together as well as weld and paint the steel to form the main span of the fantastic new bridge.
“Once the new 200 metre long pedestrian bridge reaches the western side of the Nepean River, crews will then install railings and lighting.
Mr Ayres said steel girders for the approach span on the western side of the river were expected to be lifted by crane into position in April.
“This work will be carried out at night to minimise any impact to motorists.
“The last step will be to remove the temporary piers in the river which will provide rowers and boaters with complete access to the beautiful waterway running through the Nepean region.”
Mr Ayres said it added the “missing link [in the Bridge to Bridge Walk] absent from this community for 150 years”.
The bridge has cost more than double original estimates – following concerns about multiple piers impacting on the rowing community and other river users.
The preferred bridge design and location considered unique constraints including heritage, flooding, property and privacy impacts, and the submarine high pressure gas main on the southern side of Victoria Bridge, which supplies Blue Mountains’ residents with gas. It is being built by Seymour Whyte Constructions.
Work on the project started in mid-2016 to prepare the river site. The first sod was turned in August that year in Memorial Avenue.
At the initial announcement Minister for Roads Duncan Gay said the “world class bridge” would “provide a whopping 257 metre shared path with viewing platforms, canopies and a terrace to take in the picturesque views of the Nepean River, Blue Mountains and historic Victoria Bridge”.
“It will be a destination in its own right,” Mr Ayres added.
A spokeswoman for Mr Ayres said the Nepean River Bridge was just a “working title” and no decision had been made at this stage about the final name.