Wimmera River bridges open until Easter

THE Wimmera River bridges in Horsham will remain open until Easter, when VicRoads begins upgrade work.

VicRoads representatives visited Horsham yesterday to update the community about works on the bridges.

Acting regional director Michael McCarthy and acting project delivery manager Brad Pryor discussed the project and plans during an information session in Horsham yesterday afternoon.

Mr McCarthy said the project would be put to tender next month and works were due to start early next year.

The project will include bridge strengthening works and will also involve widening the footpaths on either side and widening traffic lanes.

"The project is essentially to strengthen the bridge but it gives us an opportunity to do footpath works at the same time," Mr McCarthy said.

"Initially the footpaths will be widened and that will mean one lane is closed on each bridge.

"There will also be barriers installed between the traffic lanes and pedestrians."

Mr McCarthy said the Adelaide-bound bridge would be first to close at Easter to allow road works to begin.

He said traffic would be diverted to the Melbourne-bound bridge via a crossover point, to be constructed in the median strip.

He said motorists needed to be aware of the changes in traffic conditions.

"The main thing is the reduced capacity in the morning during school drop-off times will be the biggest issue," he said.

"We will be monitoring signals at intersections further along the road to manage traffic flow.

"Motorists can expect delays of up to 10 minutes."

Mr McCarthy said a traffic controller would be on site during the day and emergency plans were in place.

"We have routes we can put into play in an emergency. The main one would be diverting traffic to Murtoa, then Rupanyup and Glenorchy," he said.

"A key thing will be for people to plan their trips and perhaps leave a few minutes earlier or wait until later in the day if possible to save a bit of frustration."

Mr Pryor said VicRoads looked at the possibility of doing half of one bridge and half of the other at a time but the current plan was the best option.

"This is the quickest way to get it done and it is also safer for the workers, because the bridge they are working on will be totally isolated," he said.

Works are expected to take 12 months.

VicRoads also hosted a meeting in Stawell last night about the Western Highway duplication project.

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