Although the current drought and increasing water dilemma has taken the focus off issues relating to Tenterfield Shire Council's aging timber bridge infrastructure, Mayor Peter Petty assured the community that works have been continuing and council's bridge crews, engineering staff and contractors have been steadily working through the mammoth task.
The state government funding of $2.77 million received earlier in the year for bridge works included an $177,000 to assess the safe load limit of a further 40 bridges, in addition to the 15 which were identified as requiring load limits in August last year. At this stage no further load limits have been imposed.
Council also received $850,000 from the federal government's Drought Communities Program Funding for a total budget of $3.62 million specifically for works to lift the load limits and test the remaining bridges.
"As the financial year draws to a close, I am pleased to report that our bridge crews have been getting through a power of work and, although our engineering staff are also caught up in the water crisis, council has not dropped the ball on getting our timber bridges fixed and load limits removed," Cr Petty said.
Works completed in the last financial year include:
- the installation of a temporary bridge on Paddys Flat Road North over an unnamed creek;
- nine new girders, new kerb and 25 per cent new decking to the Rocky River Road bridge over McLeods Creek), lifting the 15 tonne load limit;
- new decking on the Mt Clunie Road bridge over an unnamed creek;
- two piles restored on the Billirmba Road bridge over Hawkins Gully, lifting the seven tonne limit;
- two fibre reinforcements installed on the Castlerag Road bridge over Deepwater River, lifting the 10 tonne limit;
- four fibre reinforcements installed on the Back Creek Road bridge over Tenterfield Creek, lifting the five tonne limit;
- 25 per cent new decking on the Gould Falls Road bridge over Acacia Creek;
- the Beaury Creek Road bridge over Five Mile Creek replaced with a new concrete culvert; and
- a side track and temporary bridge installed on Hootons Road over Emu Creek.
Despite the works, council is asking bridge users to proceed with caution until assessments have been completed and signage reviewed.
In coming weeks works should be completed on:
- superstructure replacement and pier reinforcing on the White Swamp Road bridge over Woodenbong Creek, lifting the nine tonne load limit;
- installation of five fibre reinforcements on the Black Swamp Road bridge over Cataract River, lifting the 10 tonne limit;
- installation of a side track and temporary bridge on Mt Lindesay Road over Boonoo Boonoo River by the end of this month, lifting the 10 tonne limit.
"As the imposition of Level 4.5 water restrictions has had an enormous impact on the residents of Tenterfield town, so too has the burden of load restrictions on many bridges acted to create additional hardship for our primary industries and rural land holders, and council has not forgotten that," Cr Petty said.