Historic Nowra Bridge repurposing - Nowra Bridge project - Princes Highway upgrade


Project overview

The heritage listed old Nowra Bridge crosses the Shoalhaven River and is an unofficial gateway to the South Coast.

The historic bridge was completed in 1881 and is a rare example of a pin-jointed Whipple truss bridge. When the new four-lane bridge opens, the old bridge will be retired to road traffic and repurposed for future use by the community.

Latest news

August 2022 - Summary of historic Nowra Bridge community consultation

A summary report detailing feedback from over 1,200 people on the future of the historic Nowra Bridge has been published. Feedback included wide ranging suggestions on how best to preserve and respect the heritage of the bridge, as well as explore opportunities the bridge offers for the local community and tourism. View the Historic Nowra Bridge Community Consultation Summary Report (PDF, 6.93Mb).

A new life for the old Nowra Bridge

Project information


The future of the 1881 heritage listed whipple truss bridge across the Shoalhaven River has been the subject of extensive investigations.

In 2018 it was recommended the bridge be retained for adaptive reuse when it is retired and road traffic moves onto the new river crossing which is currently being built.

The decision was based on the historical significance and heritage value of the bridge, while also taking into consideration the expected benefits, cost and feedback received during planning of the Nowra Bridge project.

In late 2014 during the early planning stages of the Nowra Bridge project, we asked for feedback on the historic bridge, currently used by southbound traffic, to inform a decision on whether it would be retained, relocated or removed. During that time the majority of the submissions received indicated the bridge should be retained. The submissions report from this consultation can be viewed in project documents.

A more recent consultation invited the community to make suggestions on how the bridge could be repurposed. Over 1000 submissions were received prior to the consultation closing on 4 February 2022.

Next steps

The process and timing of the repurposing is shown in the flow chart on this page. We are now in the construction stage of the Nowra Bridge project and we are also carrying out inspections and investigations into the old bridge.

Your feedback will inform the review of environmental factors (REF) which will be carried out next year and we plan to have a proposal and designs for repurposing on display with the REF in late 2022.

Historic Nowra Bridge repurposing flow chart

Community information

Frequently asked questions

  • What will happen to the historic Nowra Bridge?

    The 1881 whipple truss bridge will be retired from road use and repurposed after the new four lane Nowra Bridge opens.

    The future of the bridge has been the subject of extensive investigations and in 2018 it was recommended the bridge be retained for adaptive reuse. The decision was based on the historical significance and heritage value of the bridge, while also taking into consideration the expected benefits and feedback received during planning of the Nowra Bridge project.

  • What happens next?

    Your feedback will inform the review of environmental factors (REF) which will be carried out next year. The REF will assess the environmental, social and economic impacts of the work. We are planning to have a proposal and designs on display with the REF in late 2022.

  • Why is the bridge being repurposed instead of removed or used for more lanes of road traffic?

    Community consultation conducted by Transport for NSW in 2014 showed a strong majority of people wanted to see the 1881 bridge retained. It has reached the end of its serviceable life for road traffic due to its 140 year old design being unsuitable for modern traffic needs with weight and size limits restricting the flow of heavy vehicles across the Shoalhaven River.

  • What maintenance work is required to repurpose the bridge?

    Inspections are being carried out to inform the rehabilitation and maintenance works required. These investigations include above and below water inspections as well as structural analysis.

    The heritage bridge will require some critical repairs prior to any repurposing including the removal of lead paint and repainting. The full extent of work will be assessed in the review of environmental factors in 2022.

    Work to prepare the bridge and repaint it is estimated to take around 18 months to two years.

  • How big is the steel truss bridge?

    The whipple truss steel bridge is around six metres wide and 342 metres long.

  • What is the heritage value of the bridge?

    The bridge is a rare example of a pin-jointed whipple truss bridge and is listed on a number of heritage registers as having both local and state significant, including the Roads and Maritime Services Section 170 Heritage and Conservation Register.

    When it opened in 1881 the old Nowra Bridge it was the largest bridge project in New South Wales. It is also the only steel truss bridge of its kind to be used for road traffic in the state.

  • Does the heritage significance limit repurposing options?

    The historical and structural significance of the bridge was a key factor in the decision to retain it and it does also limit our repurposing options. Any proposal will need to be sympathetic to the bridges existing heritage value and appearance.

    There are also opportunities to celebrates the bridge’s heritage through the repurposing and this is one area we are seeking feedback on from the community.

  • Can there be markets on the bridge?

    As the steel truss bridge is only around six metres wide and prone to strong gusts of wind it is unsafe to have market stalls set up along it. There are also environmental concerns including the risk of large amounts of rubbish falling or blowing into the Shoalhaven River.

  • Why can’t the bridge be used for rail or overflow traffic?

    The heritage listed bridge has reached the end of its serviceable life for heavy vehicle traffic and would not be able to withstand the weight and motion impacts of a modern passenger or freight train.

    The bridge is operationally unsuitable to cater for future traffic demands or rail usage and will be closed to vehicles once the new bridge is open.

    The Future Transport Strategy 2056 does not identify extending the South Coast Rail line south into Nowra or further as an initiative for investigation in the short, medium or long term.

  • Who will maintain the historic bridge once it has been repurposed?

    The 1881 bridge will remain a Transport for NSW asset after repair and repurposing is complete. Transport for NSW will be responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the structure and foundations.

    Transport for NSW will work together with Shoalhaven City Council on the repurposing to ensure it fits with council’s broader plans for the foreshore.

  • How much will it cost to repurpose the bridge?

    Final cost of the repurposing will be highly dependent on the purpose and design chosen for the bridge once it is retired from road traffic. Community feedback will help shape the concept and design of this repurposing work.

    There are some critical maintenance activities required to ensure the bridge is safe for ongoing use. This includes lead paint removal and repainting which could be $15-25 million, with the full extent of work required to be assessed through further investigations now and when traffic moves off the bridge.

  • When will the bridge be ready to use in its repurposed state?

    When the new four-lane concrete bridge opens to traffic, further investigations and maintenance work will be able to start on the steel truss bridge.

    The Nowra Bridge project is scheduled for completion in 2024, and it is estimated repairs to the historic Nowra Bridge could take 18 months to two years.

    Proposed timing of the repurposing and critical work required is shown in the December project update (PDF, 4.49Mb).

    We will continue to keep the community and stakeholders informed of progress on the bridge repurposing.

  • How can I stay informed?

    To receive updates about the repurposing project, please join our mailing list.

 Project documents

Some documents on this page may not comply with accessibility requirements (WCAG).

If you are having trouble accessing information in these documents, please contact us.


Project notifications


Subscribe to stay up to date


Privacy Statement: Transport for NSW is committed to protecting your personal information. We will not publish or disclose your personal information to any third parties unless you consent or as authorised by law. Aggregated or depersonalised information which does not identify you, such as summary tables, may be published or disclosed to third parties. Providing personal information is voluntary, however we rely on your participation to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information obtained and we may not be able to communicate with you directly if you do not provide your personal information.

Your information will be managed by Transport for NSW in accordance with the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 and the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002. For further information, please see our Privacy Management Plan or contact us at privacy@transport.nsw.gov.au. If you wish to access, correct or remove the personal information collected by us you can email NowraBridgeProject@transport.nsw.gov.au.


Contact us

For further information about this project, please contact:

Email: NowraBridgeProject@transport.nsw.gov.au

Mail: Nowra Bridge project, PO Box 477 Wollongong NSW 2520

Visit: Community display centre, 14 Moss Street Nowra NSW 2541