Yarrawonga - Mulwala Bridge planning study

In 2009 VicRoads commissioned a planning study to identify options for a new bridge and approaches within the townships of Yarrawonga and Mulwala.

The need for a new bridge

Yarrawonga and Mulwala are situated on the Murray River on the Victoria - New South Wales border.

Currently there are two bridges for road-based traffic – the Mulwala Bridge and the Yarrawonga Weir. The Yarrawonga Weir will be closed to traffic from 2020. The second crossing, the existing Mulwala Bridge, is coming to the end of its useful life and would need a lot of money spent on it to keep it in service.

The communities of Yarrawonga-Mulwala have been discussing the need for a new bridge for almost 10 years and have participated in extensive community consultation and reviews.

A new bridge and Murray Valley Highway connection

A new bridge to connect Yarrawonga and Mulwala will be constructed next to the existing bridge; the old bridge will then be removed.

By building a new bridge next to the current bridge, we’re maintaining the direct connection between Yarrawonga and Mulwala, and residents get the benefits of a new bridge.

The new bridge will be safer for everyone - the lanes will be straight and wide, and a pedestrian and cycle path will separate those bridge users from the traffic.

The Victorian Government has also committed to build a connecting road between the bridge and the Murray Valley Highway, to take traffic off Belmore Street, Yarrawonga.

This new connection will incorporate an upgrade of the existing section of Irvine Parade between the bridge and Orr Street, and construction of a new road south from Orr Street to the highway, between the railway line and Sharp Street. 

This new road will provide a freight route between New South Wales and the Murray Valley Highway, removing heavy truck traffic from Belmore Street. Traffic modelling shows a 32 percent reduction in the number of vehicles on Belmore Street between Piper Street and Orr Street once this route has been established. 

Mulwala to Yarrawonga Map E smaller image

Key benefits of the bridge alignment and Murray Valley Highway connection 

  • Removes through-traffic and reduces congestion in Belmore Street
  • Provides a new freight route and removes trucks from Belmore Street
  • Provides people in the residential areas east of Belmore Street with good access to the bridge
  • Maintains the existing conditions in Melbourne Street, Mulwala
  • Provides a reliable route for pedestrians and cyclists between Melbourne Street in Mulwala, and Belmore Street in Yarrawonga.
  • Supports tourism by providing direct access to Yarrawonga foreshore 
  • A safer bridge for drivers, freight operators, cyclists and pedestrians
  • Supports local initiatives to encourage walking, cycling and public transport
  • Minimises traffic noise impacts on residents
  • Greatly improves access to the future train station

The new bridge and cultural heritage

VicRoads recognises and respects the significance of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage in the Yarrawonga-Mulwala area and will continue to work closely with representatives of the Yorta Yorta and Cummeragunja through the life of the planned bridge replacement project.

As part of the planning study, cultural heritage assessments responding to respective state legislation have been carried out. Recently new evidence of aboriginal burials in the Mulwala area have come to light. VicRoads and Roads and Maritime Services (NSW) have met with representatives of the Yorta Yorta, to discuss the potential impact of the project on areas of aboriginal cultural significance. 

The next stage of work involves a commitment from Roads and Maritime Services to further progress cultural heritage and environmental assessments of the area.

Planning Study Background Information

In 2009, the Governments of NSW and Victoria announced shared funding for a planning study to identify the alignment for a replacement bridge crossing between Yarrawonga and Mulwala.

The aim of the study was to identify the best transport solution for both the Yarrawonga and Mulwala communities.

Preliminary concept plans were developed for six bridge crossing options. The options were derived as a result of analysis and modelling, community consultation and key stakeholder meetings. In June 2011, following community and stakeholder input, three crossing options, and three connections to the Murray Valley Highway, were shortlisted for detailed investigation. 

Involving the community

Extensive community consultation has been undertaken in recent years, including community information sessions, project brochures delivered to local residents and businesses, surveys and an online consultation. 

A summary of the broad themes from that consultation, which have been considered in making a decision, are as follows:
  • Most people stated that their main reason for crossing between the two towns is for leisure or social purposes.
  • Many of the people spoken to didn’t have an alignment preference; they were just keen for an outcome.
  • People wanted the new bridge to feel safer than the current bridge, including wider lanes.
  • People wanted to remove trucks from Belmore Street.
  • There was a desire to see the current pedestrian link between the Mulwala Bridge and the Yarrawonga Weir retained, particularly for pedestrians who enjoy walking “the loop”. 
  • Feedback indicated that the differences in travel time by car were not of great concern however changes in travel time to pedestrians was a high concern.

Next Steps

The project will now be referred to the Minister for Planning, who will determine the process to get the necessary planning approvals. VicRoads will then work through the planning approval process, and submit a proposal to the Government for funding consideration.

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