PTA burns its bridges

Avon Valley Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Sarah Brookes

THE Shire of Toodyay is call­ing on the Pub­lic Trans­port Author­ity to re­verse its de­ci­sion to close the rail­way foot­bridge in Toodyay, la­belling the move “poor pub­lic pol­icy”.

Shire Pres­i­dent Brian Rayner said the de­ci­sion was an ab­di­ca­tion of re­spon­si­bil­ity by the State Gov­ern­ment.

“Toodyay is split in two by the stan­dard gauge rail­way which car­ries all rail freight be­tween Perth and eastern Aus­tralia,” he said.

“Toodyay’s el­derly and dis­abled res­i­dents are be­ing asked to take their chances with an un­con­trolled level cross­ing be­tween these be­he­moths.”

Cr Rayner de­nied claims by the PTA that un­der the Pub­lic Works Act the bridge should al­ways have been the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the Shire of Toodyay.

“It would have been had it ever been handed over,” he said. “It wasn’t. “In that other great pol­icy dis­as­ter in­volv­ing the leas­ing of the pub­lic rail net­work, there was an agree­ment be­tween Brook­field and the PTA that the PTA would con­tinue to main­tain the bridge.

“Some­how that agree­ment was for­got­ten.

“What we have now is a bridge un­der the con­trol of the PTA that has been ne­glected for 50 years un­til it is in such a state that they have de­cided to de­mol­ish it.”

Trans­port Min­is­ter Rita Saf­fi­oti said she was dis­ap­pointed the PTA had stated a po­si­tion prior to her hav­ing the chance to re­spond to the Shire of Toodyay’s let­ter.

“In the first in­stance, my of­fice has con­tacted the lo­cal mem­ber and we will be get­ting in touch with the Shire to re­quest fur­ther in­for­ma­tion such as any engi­neer­ing as­sess­ments that have been un­der­taken,” she said.

“I note that among the pre­vi­ous Lib­eral- Na­tional Gov­ern­ment’s enor­mous Roy­al­ties for Re­gions ex­pen­di­ture, not a cent was put to­wards fix­ing this bridge.”

Cr Rayner said the PTA was pre­pared to gift the bridge to the Shire of Toodyay if the Shire foots the re­pair bill.

“The Shire has been here be­fore,” he said.

“The State Gov­ern­ment handed the Shire the foot­bridge across the Avon River which con­nects the town with the high school.

“Af­ter ac­cept­ing the gift it cost the Shire al­most $ 1 mil­lion to re­pair it and make it safe.”

Cr Rayner said the foot­bridge was an es­sen­tial piece of in­fra­struc­ture for the peo­ple of Toodyay and the Shire was pre­pared to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for it af­ter it had been re­paired.

Toodyay foot­bridge has been closed.

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