A detailed design for the new Stingray Creek bridge is nearing completion but will require additional investigations, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council's Director Infrastructure and Asset Management Jeffery Sharp advised last week.
The council is awaiting a ministerial determination on a Native Title land claim associated with the land on the western side.
Further investigation is needed into the very soft ground conditions on the western end of the proposed bridge, piling depths and ensuring Telstra and Essential Energy communications and power distribution are accommodated in the new bridge.
In the meantime, Mr Sharp said, the council would continue working with the consultant bridge designers to bring the additional investigations to completion.
Mr Sharp confirmed a project steering group was established to oversee design and delivery of the new 190 metre long bridge, recognised as a key piece of local infrastructure.
The steering group draws on the professional expertise of senior staff from both the NSW Public Works and Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) working in co-operation with the council's professional infrastructure delivery staff and the chairman of Council's major projects portfolio, Cr Justin Levido.
The steering group has met twice this year. At its most recent meeting earlier this month, the steering group noted that the design was nearing completion but agreed there were several areas requiring additional investigation. Mr Sharp said these investigations would be finalised prior to completion of the bridge design to help limit construction risk and to ensure best value for money.
"The steering group has resolved to only call for construction tenders once the detailed designs - including the additional investigations - have been fully completed," Mr Sharp said.
"At this stage the council will also be in a position to provide a more accurate cost estimate for the entire project."
Subject to the successful completion of the additional investigations, construction of the new bridge could be underway before the end of the year.
Mr Sharp said the construction period for the new bridge was expected to be in the order of 18 months from the time the contractor establishes on site to completion.
"This project remains a priority for Port Macquarie-Hastings Council and we will be doing everything possible to provide the best possible outcome in relation to the delivery of the bridge," Mr Sharp said.
Council resolved in June last year to replace the bridge, between North Haven and Laurieton, after receiving confirmation from the NSW State Government that it would make an additional $2 million in funding available for the project. State Government funding now totals $8 million and represents 50 per cent of the estimated $16 million in constructions costs for the new bridge.
The detailed design is being finalised by bridge design specialists OPUS International Pty Ltd Consultants.