A road bridge built in the same year as Datsun launched the 200B sedan has been nominated as the biggest obstacle to the new generation of high-productivity heavy vehicles becoming a fixture on the Hume Highway.
The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) has resumed calls for upgrades to Sheahan Bridge at Gundagai or replacement infrastructure to assist the freight task on Australia’s main freight corridor
The northbound Sheahan Bridge, spanning the Murrumbidgee River, cannot be used by 30 metre A double or quad B double heavy vehicles without limited permits.
NatRoad CEO Warren Clark said when the bridge was commissioned in 1977, ABBA was touring Australia and driving a new 200B was a dream for thousands of teenage boys.
“ABBA is making a comeback as superannuants and Datsun 200Bs are as rare as unicycles, but a bridge built in the same year they were all the rage is standing in the way of safer, more productive trucks,” Mr Clark said.
“Transport for New South Wales has announced it will conduct investigatory work to improve the bridge approaches and we’re grateful for that.
“But constraints on large heavy vehicles on Australia’s most important road freight route will stay until the New South Wales Government bites the bullet and funds an upgrade.”
The bridge is accessible northbound for large articulated vehicles only under permit following the March demolition of Wallendbeen Bridge on Burley Griffin Way, due to significant cracking in the brickwork and subsidence in the road.
Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council says it could take up to 18 months for a new bridge to be built.
“That will happen before Sheahan Bridge gets an upgrade,” Mr Clark said.
“The Hume Highway is Australia’s busiest interstate freight route and carries 40 per cent of the total national road freight task, yet Sheahan Bridge is still living in the ‘70s.
“An upgrade would enable modern, high productivity vehicles to be used under a notice on the entire length of the Hume Highway, operating under a notice rather than on a limited permit basis.”
Mr Clark said new and improved rest areas along the Hume were also needed to accommodate the longer length truck and trailer combinations and to help the growing freight task.