The new cables are being installed within the old Meadowbank Railway Bridge, a popular pedestrian/cyclist bridge. The planned method will not cause any permanent changes to the bridge. After community engagement on bridge usage and further project planning, the bridge can now remain open during construction.
To get a better idea of potential community impacts from a possible closure of Meadowbank Railway Bridge, Ausgrid conducted targeted consultation which included a survey to find out more about how the bridge is used. The survey was available online and via mail if requested. Newsletters, advertisements, signs on the bridge, project web page and Facebook were used to alert people to the survey.
Almost 600 people completed the survey which ran between 8 - 28 September 2015 and then, as requested, was extended for one week.
The survey provided Ausgrid with valuable information about when the bridge is used, who uses it and how often, as well as feedback on key community concerns. Data from a permanent Roads Maritime Services (RMS) bicycle count was also used as part of this survey.
Ausgrid has used this information as the basis for further planning, including potential mitigation measures.
A summary of the key findings and details on how Ausgrid planned to use this information can be seen below. The report can be viewed via a link at right.
How the bridge is used
According to the survey responses, the most popular trip across the bridge is to cycle to work in the morning during the week. The bridge is also popular on the weekend with recreational cyclists.
- just over two thirds of respondents (67.4%) usually ride across the bridge and under one third (30.2%) usually cross the bridge on foot
- one third of respondents (189) travel across the bridge every day and 45% (260) travel across the bridge once or twice a week
- the busiest time of the day is early morning, when 58.6% of respondents usually cross the bridge and late afternoon, when 38.4% cross the bridge
- a total of 67.3% of respondents indicated they usually travel across the bridge on week days while 65.8% use the bridge on weekends
- almost 80% of respondents say they use the bridge for exercise or recreation while just over one third (36.6%) say they use it to travel to and from work
- other popular reasons for using the bridge include shopping trips to Meadowbank and Rhodes and visiting family and friends.
According to data obtained from a RMS bicycle count station* located on the Meadowbank side of the bridge, the busiest period is Sunday morning.
- during 2014/15, the busiest day of the week was Sunday, with an average of 793 bicycle trips across the bridge a week
- total daily average bridge crossings including all modes of transport was 580 during the week and 1000 on the weekend in the same period
- in 2014/2015, the average number of bicycle trips across the bridge on week days was 389 and 793 on the weekend
- bicycle trips across the bridge have increased steadily over the last eight years.
* Data captured up to 22 May 2015.
Bridge users' key concerns
The majority of respondents (66.8%) expressed concerns about the bridge being temporarily closed during construction. Concerns related to having to use busier roads as alternate routes, the inconvenience and disruption to travel, a lack of a viable alternative pedestrian link, increased travel times and the longer distance of detours.
As part of the survey, respondents were asked for suggestions on how best to reduce the impact of a potential bridge closure during construction. Responses included:
- reviewing the construction approach to either remove or reduce the need to close the bridge
- implementing a partial closure of the bridge
- reducing the length of time it takes to do the work
- timing work to be done during off-peak times, program the work during winter
- time work outside of key events such as the annual Spring Cycle, which attracts over 9000 cyclists
- install informative signage at access points, along any detours and interconnected routes
- find an alternative option to installing cables across the Parramatta River.
Ausgrid considered the suggested mitigation measures as part of the project planning. This process includes:
- asking contractors as part of the tender process to propose construction methodology that would reduce the need to close the bridge
- targeting work to be completed in the winter months (as it is quieter) and to avoid the annual Spring Cycle (which attracts over 9000 cyclists)
- investigating feasible detours
- project awareness through installation of project signage, regular information updates through newsletters, and targeted contact with community representatives such as bicycle user groups.