Transport for NSW will retain ownership - and the cost of maintenance - of the Brig O'Johnston Bridge at Clarence Town, paving the way for Dungog Shire Council to build another Williams River crossing.
The Brig O'Johnston Bridge, built in 1880, was identified for conservation due to its significance as the oldest surviving truss bridge in NSW.
Heritage legislation requires the bridge to be maintained and remain in operation but it has had a weight limit since at least 2014 and its rehabilitation work delayed at one stage by a bat colony.
Dungog Shire Council mayor Tracy Norman said the clear advice from Transport NSW that the council will not have responsibility for the upkeep of the old bridge now paves the way for council to build a new two lane bridge to improve access to Clarence Town.
"Dungog Council has secured funding for a new parallel bridge including $5.5m from the NSW state government under the Fixing Country Roads program and $8.8m from the federal government," said Cr Norman.
"Council thanks all the community members who actively lobbied the two levels of government for this much needed funding to achieve this outcome."
The council will now start the design of a new bridge adjacent to the Brig O'Johnson Bridge, liaising with Heritage NSW about the design requirements associated with proximity to the existing bridge.
The new bridge will include provisions for pedestrians and cyclists.
Community consultation will be part of the process.