Finding a fix for bridges a nightmare for Kyogle Council

OLD: Wooden bridges like this one on Churchbank Weir Road at Mutdapilly are proving a headache for councils across Australia.
OLD: Wooden bridges like this one on Churchbank Weir Road at Mutdapilly are proving a headache for councils across Australia. Rob Williams

THE challenge of replacing aging infrastructure could prove a bridge too far for Kyogle Council.

It has one bridge for every 30 residents, with over 200 in the local government area, and over the next two decades $60 million will be needed to keep them operational.

The council's executive manager of infrastructure works, Jeff Breen, said prioritising timber bridge repairs will become increasingly important, as about 70 are more than 60 years old.

However, there's a slight problem for the council.

"We need more money," Mr Breen said.

"Unfortunately, there's over 200 bridges in the area. We've been replacing them at a rate of about 10 per year, so we've repaired about 100 so far."

Mr Breen said the council was applying for funds from the Federal Government's Bridges Renewal Program, but that any funding would be a drop in the ocean.

"Only $300 million has been allocated nationally over five years," he said.

The pitfalls of the council's aging infrastructure were demonstrated at a recent council meeting, when locals raised concerns about the closure of Minneys Creek Bridge, on Clarence Way.

Chris Lahrs, of Yulgibar Station, spoke during public access about the implications of the bridge's March 3 closure, and he was supported by Evelyn Edwards.

"After many meetings, council agreed to a temporary bypass, which has been constructed, but it is in no way a permanent solution, as residents who don't have a four-wheel-drive cannot use the bypass and must travel a further 45km around Plains Station Rd and Frasers Cutting, which is getting more dangerous due to the extra traffic and heavy vehicles having to use this road," he said.

"Then there are the businesses that have been greatly affected (with additional costs) by the closure."

Mr Breen said residents' concerns had been added to the council's application for Federal funding.

Topics:  kyogle council roads timber bridges

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