The Nowra Bridge Project involves the construction of a new bridge over the Shoalhaven River at Nowra on the south coast of New South Wales (NSW), Australia. It is one of the priority projects in the Australian Government’s Infrastructure Priority List.

The construction of the four-lane bridge on the Princes Highway is estimated to cost A$342m ($261.85m). The project is jointly funded by the federal and NSW governments.

The Princes Highway connects cities and regional centres located along the country’s southeast coast. It crosses the Shoalhaven River via the Nowra Bridge.

Early works on the project commenced in February 2020, while major works are expected to start in the second half of 2020. The project is targeted to be completed by mid-2024.

The construction of the Nowra Bridge project is anticipated to generate more than 300 jobs.

Nowra Bridge project details

A new four-lane concrete bridge is proposed to be built to the west of the two existing bridges.

The new bridge will serve as the crossing for the northbound traffic, while enabling the existing northbound concrete bridge to be reserved for southbound traffic. The older southbound bridge, which was built in 1881, will be repurposed for use as a pedestrian and cycle path.

The proposal also includes the modernisation of a 1.6km stretch of the highway to three northbound lanes and three southbound lanes between Bolong Road and Moss Street. Two right turn lanes will be provided from the Princes Highway into Illaroo Road. The project will also create three right turn lanes and one dedicated left turn slip lane from Illaroo Road to the highway.

“The new bridge will serve as the crossing for the northbound traffic, while enabling the existing northbound concrete bridge to be reserved for southbound traffic.”

The upgrade of the intersection between Princes Highway and Bridge Road will include the creation of two southbound right turn lanes into Bridge Road and one left turn between Bridge Road and the highway.

The access between Pleasant Way and Princes Highway will be closed and a new local road connecting Lyrebird Drive and Princes Highway will be built to redistribute traffic on local roads. The northbound bridge would be upgraded to accommodate three lanes for southbound traffic.

The project will enable safer journeys within Bomaderry, North Nowra, Nowra and the surrounding regions. It will also provide dedicated off-road shared paths and footpaths along the proposed stretch.

Details of existing Nowra Bridge

Built in 1881, the existing Nowra Bridge is the only American pin-jointed Whipple truss bridge operational in NSW. The 342m-long bridge has eight spans supported on cast iron cylindrical piers and a steel girder approach span. Each of the seven trusses measures 38.5m long, while the lengths of the end truss and the approach span are 56m and 15m respectively.

The width of the bridge between the kerbs is 5.8m, while that of the footway is 1.3m wide. The bridge features a lightweight appearance and strong aesthetic lines.

Project benefits

The existing Nowra bridges experience traffic of more than 50,000 vehicles a day. The travel speeds during peak times are expected to reduce to 7km/h in 2038 from the existing 16km/h.

The project will meet future traffic demand and address the issue of congestion on the southbound bridge during peak hours. It is also expected to reduce the occurrence of crashes on this section of the highway.

The addition of new lanes will improve traffic flow, increase capacity, and reduce traffic delays. The construction of Nowra Bridge will offer better connectivity and improved pedestrian and cyclist links.

The enhancements to the intersections will ensure safer access to and from local roads.

The project will also remove restrictions on height and mass of the vehicles. It will allow the movement of vehicles with a height of more than 4.6m or higher mass limit B-double vehicles.

Contractors involved in Nowra Bridge project

The contract for the design and construction of the project was awarded to Fulton Hogan Construction.

Transport for NSW contracted Spatial Media to provide the community engagement and visual communications strategy for the project.

Salt Media was awarded a contract to provide animation and visualisation for Nowra Bridge. The scope of work includes 3D architectural visualisation camera and lens matching, modelling, compositing into aerial photography, and texturing from preliminary designs.