The Northern Star

Residents fear bridge tragedy

EVERY time Kerry Johnston drives over the Teven Road bridges near Ballina, she holds her breath.

The 'terrible twins' are making life hard for residents like Mrs Johnston as the bridges' poor visibility and narrow single lanes often resulting in cars meeting in the middle.

Many drivers have been forced to reverse off the bridges and risk ending up in the creek below.

It has been five years since the original development application to replace the bridges was lodged with Ballina Shire Council.

However, Mrs Johnston and other residents are still campaigning for the council to replace them, fearing a serious accident at the site.

“All of the residents here are concerned,” Mrs Johnston said.

“Many people ignore the 10km/h speed limit (on the bridges) and cars just fly over them. It's really scary.

“Fixing the bridges is a priority.”

On Monday night, Ballina Shire Council engineers, the general manager, mayor and other councillors held a workshop on the bridges, prior to council staff preparing a report, with recommendations to be presented at a council meeting next month.

The council is considering a number of options, including replacing the bridges, realigning the road and using alternative access for through traffic.

The twin bridges have been the subject of several reports to the council since 2003, and last year the council rejected tenders received for replacing them, saying they were too costly.

The cost of replacing the bridges has been estimated at $8.2 million.

However, even with the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority offering black-spot funding towards the works, the council is still facing a $4.5 million shortfall.

The council's civil services group manager, John Truman, said the shortfall could be met from loan funds.

However, he said the council was also working with the Ballina Bypass Alliance on designs and costings for the project.

Mrs Johnston's husband, David, said the sooner the bridges were replaced, the better.

“I'm concerned someone will get killed there,” he said.

To make matters worse, GPS navigation in cars has been diverting Pacific Highway traffic on to the bridges.

The council has written to the RTA in a bid to stop the diversions.

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