Blame game continues on Wujal Wujal bridge
A ROW between the Douglas Shire and the Department of Transport and Main Roads over responsibility for the Bloomfield Bridge took another turn this week when, in a letter to the the department accused the shire of reneging on an understanding.
The DTMR said council had gone back on a commitment to apply for pre-approved disaster relief funding.
But Douglas Shire Mayor Julia Leu said the DTMR had insisted Douglas try to access grant money and contribute almost $1m towards building the $12m bridge.
Council said the “very expensive structure” was outside of the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery guidelines and put the shire at risk of its funding application being rejected.
“The potential for a million dollar debt for a small and new council, resulting from a bridge designed and built by the State, to serve a neighbouring local government community, was not a risk Douglas should take on,” Ms Leu told the
Since council didn’t apply for funding, the DTMR increased its own contribution to the project.
But the DTMR said local government was heavily involved in the planning and construction of the new bridge.
The DTMR insists, since the bridge is located on a local government road, it is a local government asset.
“This was understood by all levels of government throughout the planning and delivery of the project,” said DTMR in its statement.
“DSC wrote to Transport and Main Roads on July 1 in 2014, to confirm this and advised they would take over responsibility for the new bridge when it was complete.”
But council has continued to say “no” and show no signs of changing its stance.
According to the DTMR the old causeway was prone to flooding and damage which required “expensive repairs, lengthy road closures and caused safety issues and isolation for local residents”.
The causeway was also a concern as children were wading across the river in crocodile territory to get to school.
According to modelling by the DSC – factoring in depreciation over 100 years, annual maintenance plus a reseal every 15 years – the estimated cost to the DSC is $31.8 million for the bridge’s lifetime.
In response, the DTMR said, “ongoing maintenance and management of the structure is unlikely to cost as much as forecast in the report endorsed by DSC, which contains inaccuracies”.
“For example, the bridge has a concrete deck, which does not require re-sealing,” the DTMR said.
When the causeway was destroyed by flooding in 2011, a project to construct a “much safer more flood-resistant bridge” was developed by federal, state and local government with funding committed by all levels of government, according to the DTMR.
Council said instead of renewing the damaged $2 million causeway, the State Government chose to replace the causeway with the $12 million bridge.
“While the DSC is completely supportive of the needs of the Wujal Wujal community and its council, meeting these needs is not the financial responsibility of the Douglas ratepayers,” it said.
The Shire said “the State Government have strongly counselled local governments across Queensland to not accept infrastructure from others that is not needed, not wanted and which they cannot afford”.
The contentious Bloomfield Bridge.