The AU$78m Sheahan bridge over Murrumbidgee River, Gundagai, has been opened for the general public.

It is a major step forward in the plan to duplicate the Hume Highway into a four lane divided carriageway by 2012.

Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese said that the Hume Highway was the main freight route between Sydney and Melbourne, carrying over 20 million tons of road freight every year.

“The new bridge and road approaches will greatly improve road safety for both the local community and the interstate freight moving along this busy highway,” Albanese said.

The work on new two-lane bridge started in November 2007 and has been completed ahead of schedule.