Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Residents outraged by bridge weight limit

Residents at Gunns Lane are furious about council's new 14-tonne weight limit on the bridge.

LIBBY PRICE August 13, 2014 3:33am

Benalla Rural City Council has brought in a 14 tonne weight limit on the Gunns Lane Bridge which means the Robinson family will have to unload their show jump team of horses from the truck, drive across the bridge, then re-load them.

It’s become the ‘bridge over troubled waters’ at Gunns Lane, Benalla.

Residents on the southern side of Ryans Creek are outraged that Benalla Rural City Council has just declared a 14tonne weight limit on the bridge this week. For the Robinson family, it’s a disaster for their show-jumping team as a fully-laden horse truck will now be over the weight limit.

So 14-year-old Alexandra, who is a member of the Victorian show jumping squad, will now have to walk her horses several hundred metres from the property, over the bridge, and then load them onto the truck.

Alexandra’s mother Kate only learned of the decision when she got a phone call from Benalla Rural City Council last week.

‘‘I’m so upset. With the horses valued as much as $100000, it’s a high-risk operation. There’s no alternative road access to the property,’’ she said.

It’s also outraged farmer Angus McMillan who says it’s putting lives at risk.

‘‘With the 14 tonne limit, you won’t even be able to get a fire truck out here. How am I going to truck my cattle out?’’ Mr McMillan said.

His son Hamish McMillan received a phone call from the council’s infrastructure manager Brian Campbell last Thursday informing him of the decision to bring in the 14tonne load limit.

‘‘We’ve been fighting this for eight years, wanting the safety improved,’’ Mr McMillan said.

Farmer Jack Wallace has a 30tonne silo for grain storage.

‘‘The only way we can get a semi-trailer on the property is across here (the bridge). One of the farms has access from a rear laneway if it’s dry enough, but what livestock transporter wants to drive their truck across three kilometres of paddocks when there’s a road to get there?’’

Benalla Rural City Council’s chief executive officer Tony McIlroy issued a statement that said the council received a report last week from specialist engineers who recommended a weight limit of 14tonnes for Gunns Lane Bridge, for safety reasons.

‘‘This has gone beyond a ‘patching’ job and we need to determine what work has to be done before we can remove the weight limit. The Gunns Lane Bridge was originally scheduled for assessment in 2015-16. The report from the engineers as part of the scheduled audit process revealed however that the bridge has deteriorated more quickly than expected. The council will need to determine the scale of work necessary and assess when it should be done,’’ Mr McIlroy said.

‘‘We have commissioned urgent investigations to advise us whether the bridge can be strengthened or will need to be completely replaced, and we can’t advise on any timelines on when the weight limit will be removed until we have received that advice.’’

The council claims emergency services vehicles such as CFA trucks can still use the road and said it was working to ensure that access from Hartridge Rd could be made by large heavy vehicles in the interim.

Representatives from the council will meet with residents at the Gunns Lane bridge on Friday.

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