At the August 2018 Ordinary Council Meeting Councillors considered and adopted a report recommending the imposition of load limits on a number of timber bridges in the Tenterfield Shire to ensure these structures do not fail before rectification works or total replacement can be carried out. If these load limits and the associated speed limits are disregarded, bridge deterioration will accelerate and structures may fail without warning.
In imposing these load limits, Councillors were very aware of the inconvenience and hardship this may cause individuals and businesses, especially during these dry and trying times, however the bridges were inspected by a qualified and skilled bridge engineering firm and having been advised of the inherent risk, Council has to address this risk to the travelling public.
Given that Council used a qualified engineering company to complete a series of non-destructive testing, inspections and applied structural engineering expertise to advise a safe working load limit for each of the bridges in their current condition, Council would be putting itself and its staff at risk of an indefensible damage claim if it did not load limit the bridges, and there subsequently occurred, another bridge failure which impacted property and life.
The total cost to replace and upgrade these bridges, even with temporary structures, is very significant and way beyond the financial capacity of Council and ratepayers to address, especially when other assets are reaching the end of their life in parallel.
Council and the whole community will be severely affected for some time unless Council receives immediate financial relief in the form of financial assistance from the State.
Council is exhausting all political avenues to seek grant funding to assist and has requested in letters sent to residents, for them to do the same and contact their State and Federal Member. As of Friday last week, the Member for Lismore had only received three (3) letters.
“We cannot do this on our own”, said Mayor Peter Petty. “We ask the community to get behind those who will be impacted by the load restrictions and write to our local Members to ensure they get the message”, he added.
A quick information guide on the 16 bridges requiring load limits is available on Council’s website, together with the Council report which outlines the full extent of the works required, costs and repair time frame. Go to https://www.tenterfield.nsw.gov.au/load-limits-bridges-tenterfield-shire
Media Contact: Mayor, Peter Petty on 0411 475 301.