ONE OF Wagga’s most hazardous road bends, described as a “fatality bottleneck”, was removed on Tuesday with the opening of the revamped Kapooka Bridge.
A history of gruesome crashes on one of the Olympic Highway’s trickiest bends near Kapooka led to a joint $55 million cash splash by the state and federal government.
The bridge, which will allow cars and trucks to bypass the “dangerous pinch points”, has been labelled one of the city’s “most vital piece of infrastructure”.
Kerry and Judy Delaney, who live in a home near the bridge, joined an ensemble of politicians and stakeholders to celebrate the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Mr and Mrs Delaney said the finished project, which had been in the pipeline for four years, will “save lives” and “bring safety back to the highway”.
“It was just a disaster waiting to happen; this is easily one of the best things to happen to the town in years,” Ms Delaney said.
“One afternoon we were on the road and we saw a truck hit the guard rail and it almost flipped onto the rail line underneath.
“I see young truck drivers overwhelmed with nerves on those bends, so it’s marvellous they now have a safe route.”
Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Duncan Gay made the trip to Wagga, MP Michael McCormack and Wagga Member Daryl Maguire in tow, to welcome the project’s completion.
“The new four-lane Kapooka Bridge is a win for safety and common sense,” Mr Gay said.
“We’ve replaced the tired, worn bridge with a taller, wider and longer structure and straightened the dangerous dog legged approaches.
“It will also deliver productivity benefits to the region and keep business alive in the bush.”
Close to 1.5 million motorists use the bridge, which is older than the Sydney Harbour bridge, every year. And Ron Finemore, executive chairman of Ron Finemore transport, said he believed the bridge would put an end to half a century of serious road accidents.
“We’ve been running out of Wagga for 50 years and I can safely say this will save lives and make drivers more at ease,” he said.