The Australian government has allocated US$69 million for upgrades to 164 bridges across the country.

The series of small projects will be carried out under the second round of the Bridges Renewal Programme. Typical projects include replacing timber bridges with concrete structures, upgrading culverts and changing a bridge alignment to avoid problems during floods.

Acting prime minister Warren Truss said that the new programme is proving very popular, with the second round seeing a significant increase in the number and quality of applications from local governments.

“We understand that local government has responsibility for thousands of local bridges, many of which are in a poor state of repair,” he said. “Some councils face critical bridge issues beyond their capacity to address. By upgrading these bridges, residents will enjoy better, safer and more reliable road access. Freight from farms and local factories will also be able to pass more safely along quicker routes, improving their productivity."

The government has committed a total of US$206 million in funding for the programme over five years, starting from 2014–15.