Res­i­dents call for new bridge

The Tatura Guardian - - News - By Thomas Moir

The Toolamba com­mu­nity is call­ing for a new bridge to be funded and con­structed as a mat­ter of ur­gency, to avoid the in­con­ve­nience of need­ing to take ‘‘the long way around’’.

There is also a push from Toolamba res­i­dents to en­sure the ex­ist­ing cen­tury-old bridge is re­tained, po­ten­tially to be utilised as a walk­ing and rid­ing track.

Greater Shep­par­ton City Coun­cil said it would likely need fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to re­place the bridge; some­thing that would be needed dur­ing the next decade as the ex­ist­ing bridge reached the end of its life.

Toolamba steer­ing com­mit­tee mem­ber Geoff May­nard called for some ac­tion on a sep­a­rate new bridge.

And he was con­fi­dent the ex­ist­ing bridge could con­tinue to be use­ful as some­thing other than a traf­fic ar­te­rial, ar­gu­ing it could con­nect into walk­ing trails.

‘‘There’s a lot of uses . . . the bridge would not be lost,’’ Mr May­nard said.

He said the state of play — be­tween the two-tonne weight limit and oc­ca­sional clo­sures for re­pair — was ‘‘some­thing that af­fects the whole com­mu­nity’’.

‘‘A lot of SUVs . . . Land­cruis­ers, any­thing with a trailer . . . it’s go­ing to be over two tonnes.’’

The op­tions in this case, he said, were lengthy de­tours to the Peter Ross-Ed­wards Cause­way — con­nect­ing Shep­par­ton and Mooroopna — or to drive to Murchi­son.

‘‘It’s a prob­lem that needs to be solved,’’ he said.

‘‘I think the cost just to bring it back to rea­son­able stan­dard is about $700 000 . . . it’s bet­ter toput that into fund­ing for a new bridge. ‘‘It’s very ur­gent.’’ Fel­low Toolamba com­mu­nity group mem­ber Robert Knight said some lo­cal res­i­dents had been work­ing on a plan.

It in­volves a po­ten­tial walk­ing and bik­ing trail util­is­ing the age­ing bridge for recre­ational pur­poses, once a new re­place­ment bridge is built.

He be­lieves ‘‘tremen­dous’’ op­por­tu­ni­ties for visi­ta­tion ex­ist.

‘‘We think it would re­duce the amount of money coun­cil would need to spend on the bridge, main­tain­ing it as a tourist des­ti­na­tion,’’ Mr Knight said.

The fun­da­men­tal prob­lem with the bridge, as he sees it, is when it is ‘‘out for re­pairs’’ it can add up to 40 min­utes of ad­di­tional travel.

‘‘The long way around,’’ he de­scribed it.

Mr Knight be­lieves the bridge when com­pletely oper­a­tional serves as a thor­ough­fare con­nect­ing towns, such as Euroa and Tatura.

‘‘It’s used as a sort of by­pass road, as an al­ter­na­tive to the cause­way,’’ he said.

City en­gi­neer Phil Hoare said the coun­cil had the bridge pro­grammed for re­place­ment in the next decade.

‘‘We are seek­ing some as­sis­tance and fund­ing for ul­ti­mate re­place- ment of that bridge,’’ Mr Hoare said.

‘‘Coun­cil seeks to get some con­tri­bu­tion to some of th­ese larger projects that are prob­a­bly out­side of nor­mal busi­ness.’’

Mr Hoare de­scribes the de­tours around the bridge as ‘‘sig­nif­i­cant’’ for the com­mu­nity, stress­ing any ve­hi­cle with a heavy piece of ma­chin­ery was likely to ex­ceed the two-tonne limit.

State Mem­ber for Shep­par­ton Suzanna Sheed this week met with lo­cals at the site to hear their con­cerns.

She used the visit as a plat­form to call on the Vic­to­rian Govern­ment and Op­po­si­tion to con­sider fund­ing a re­place­ment bridge; re­cently val­ued by the Coun­cil as cost­ing be­tween $5 mil­lion and $7 mil­lion.

She said the cur­rent bridge was ‘‘not ser­vic­ing the needs of this com­mu­nity’’.

‘‘A new bridge is re­quired . . . It could be re­paired, but at great cost . . . the com­mu­nity are of the view that a new bridge is re­ally the so­lu­tion,’’ Ms Sheed said.

Ms Sheed hoped that who­ever formed govern­ment at next month’s state elec­tion could part­ner with the coun­cil to de­liver ‘‘the new bridge we need’’.

‘‘How long does a com­mu­nity have to keep ask­ing?

‘‘This is a real op­por­tu­nity for (par­ties) to have a look at this and see if they can find a so­lu­tion.’’

Suzanna Sheed

Funds needed: It is es­ti­mated up to $7 mil­lion would be re­quired for a new, mod­ern Toolamba Bridge.

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