Council’s timber bridges safety program is starting to bite as load limits come into force and those with heavier vehicles have to find alternate routes.
Council is imposing the measures in a bid to ensure the bridges don’t 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,” a council statement said.
“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.”
Council would be putting itself and its staff at risk of an indefensible damage claim if it did not load limit the bridges.- Tenterfield Shire Council
The total cost to replace and upgrade these bridges, even with temporary structures, is well beyond the financial capacity of council and ratepayers, especially given that other assets are also reaching the end of their life.
“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,” the statement said.
Council is urging residents to also contact their state and federal members on the issue. State member Thomas George has so far received only three letters.
“We cannot do this on our own,” 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.”
Cr Petty said any temporary works on structures or alternative temporary access need to be planned and minimised to ensure available budgets are channelled towards the long term replacements as far as possible.
An information guide on the 16 bridges requiring load limits is available at www.tenterfield.nsw.gov.au/load-limits-bridges-tenterfield-shire, detailing planned works and their scheduled commencement, and interim measures.
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