Coolup residents won’t have to take a detour around Pinjarra in order to cross the Murray River anymore as the new East Coolup bridge was officially opened on Friday.
The $6.3 million dollar project is in place and open to the public after almost 12 months of intense works.
The new bridge links South Western Highway and Pinjarra-Williams Road, and aims to improve connectivity and safety for both locals and emergency services.
The steel and concrete bridge, the first of its kind for Western Australia, was built next to the river and launched in two different stages using an incremental launch technique.
It features a number of innovations such a built-in pre-camber to the main girders to align the existing road profile, maintenance free spherical bearings, precast drainage kerbs, and a maintenance walkway along the full length to ensure the safety of workers.
The new East Coolup bridge would replace the old timber and concrete structure built in 1964, which had a 10 tonne load limit and showed structural cracks and signs of deterioration.
WA minister for State development, transport and innovation Bill Marmion, member for Murray-Wellington Murray Cowper, Shire of Murray president Maree Reid and Aboriginal elders Clarry Wally and Harry Nannup, cut the ribbon on Friday to officially open the bridge.
“This is a big day for Coolup, and a big day for the Shire,” Shire president Maree Reid said.
She acknowledged the hard work of the Coolup Progress Association and she said the Shire was looking forward to working together in new projects.
Mr Marmion highlighted the historical nature of the old timber bridge, and shared stories from his time as a student driving across the bridge on a daily basis.
“It looked really good to me in 1975, but it makes you feel how old you are when you know you've been over a bridge and it's been replaced,” he said.
“The bridge that has been replaced in the East Coolup Road was probably originally all timber and what Main Roads could do to actually maintain the life of the bridge was put a concrete deck over the top.
“I'm assuming it's what's just been replaced and now we've got a fantastic steel, concrete bridge that's probably going to last for a hundred years.
“Coolup East Road is a key transport thoroughfare, this bridge provides and important link for residents with properties on the eastern side of the river and guarantees future access for emergency service vehicles.”
Mr Cowper also highlighted the importance of the bridge for emergency services workers, especially in the event of a bushfire and said opening the new bridge would be a relief for residents.
“The bridge behind us is a fantastic new addition to the community, quite an important piece of strategic infrastructure that we need,” he said.
The bridge replacement project employed up to 30 people on site, and 11 local subcontractors and suppliers.
It was funded by the state government through the State Initiative Programme, with funding allocated in advance from the 2016/17 financial year due to the urgency of the work.