IT has been a long time coming for residents of Dyers Crossing.
When Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss and member for Lyne David Gillespie visited the community this week, their announcement that funding of $10 million is available to put towards roads and bridges in the Greater Taree area was met with applause.
Residents have been campaigning for almost 20 years for the deteriorating timber bridge, which was opened in 1934, to be replaced.
Their hopes were raised previously when funding was promised for the work by the previous Labor government, but were then dashed when the Coalition came into government last year it was made clear money was not available.
Greater Taree City Council has already spent $1.1 million on preliminary works for a number of infrastructure projects, including the design of plans to replace Dyers Crossing Bridge and Dickensen's Bridge at Moto as well as reconstruction works on Manning Point Road from Old Bar Road to Bohnock Bridge and sections of Gloucester Road.
Erica Gordon, a resident for many years who works at the Dyers Crossing General Store, and who led the community's campaign to get the bridge replaced, said she was "very pleased" with the announcement.
She indicated she was expecting it, in a way, based on a conversation with Mr Truss when he visited Taree earlier in the year to officially open Dr Gillespie's Taree office when he said if council requested the transfer of the funding from the Northern Gateway Project to fund roads and bridges work, then he would be in favour of it.
"The Gateway, although a good idea, obviously isn't ready to start," she said.
"Fortunately it has happened (for us)."
Council now must sign official paperwork from the federal government and also call for tenders.
Mrs Gordon said she would love to see something started by Christmas.
It was made clear to council that the community wants the current bridge to stay in place to allow access while the new, two lane concrete bridge, is constructed.
"This is the only high level bridge. Both Firefly Creek bridge and Dargaville Road go under when it floods.
"It has to stay there otherwise there isn't a way in or out (when it rains)," Mrs Gordon said.
It has been close to 12 months since motorists have had full access to the bridge, which was reduced to one lane and the weight limit dropped to five tonnes.
Mrs Gordon said milk tankers, cattle trucks, caravans, horse floats, the school bus and other large vehicles have all been unable to use the bridge in that time, instead having to take the 15km detour.
It has cost locals, especially dairy and cattle farmers who have been paying extra for cartage transport per kilometre.
"Even a lot of older people won't drive on it because it isn't safe and drive up and around."