Dismay as decaying bridge is torn down
DOUGLAS Shire Council has defended a controversial executive decision to remove a popular fishing and tourist spot, despite community backlash over a lack of consultation.
The Old Mowbray Bridge, south of Port Douglas, is this week being removed after an engineer’s report deemed it to be too unsafe and at risk of “catastrophic failure”.
A report on the issue, which will be made available to the public, is being prepared for the first ordinary meeting of the new council following next month’s election.
Although the bridge had been barricaded to the public for several months, last week’s announcement was met with anger by many shire residents.
Port Douglas man Michael Johnston, who enjoyed fishing at the former bridge with his grandchildren, said removing the wooden structure was only creating another safety risk for anglers and curious crocodilespotters.
“Did they realise what it meant for local fishing and tourism?” he said.
“The whole thing could have been handled much better.”
Council CEO Linda Cardew said the decision to immediately remove the bridge was in the community’s best interest.
“There can be circumstances, where the overriding imperative must be to take immediate action to ensure that a source of real and immediate danger to the community is rendered safe, without delay,” she said.
Councillor Terry Melchert, who objected to the executive decision, said he would move a motion at next week’s council meeting to determine whether a replacement platform could be built.
Douglas Shire mayor Julia Leu said she supported rebuilding the platform as a capital works project.
“Of course, I am as disappointed as everyone that the bridge had to be removed, following the advice that the platform was at risk of catastrophic failure,” she said.
Workers begin dismantling the Old Mowbray Bridge, south of Port Douglas, after a report by an engineer deemed the wooden structure too unsafe.