The Old Goulburn River Bridge's future looks shakier than eevr before.CHALPAT SONTI September 4, 2014 3:53am
Some of the about 20 interested residents who attended the meeting, as the bridge watches on in the background.
The future of the Old Goulburn River Bridge looks to be staring well and truly down the slippery slope after a meeting at the site last week writes Telegraph editor CHALPAT SONTI.
The 20 or so local residents who met with Mitchell Shire Council representatives at the Old Goulburn River Bridge last week could not help but feel as though many years of endeavour were unlikely to come up with a happy ending.
They had just listened to the council’s engineering and infrastructure director Jeff Saker and engineering services manager James Kelly tell them the results of a report on the old wooden wonder — and its future looked bleaker than any time in its 121-year history.
Work has been halted on removing the superstructure as part of an interim ‘‘fix’’ before further funding is applied for to come up with a more permanent solution.
Mr Kelly told the meeting that there was a lot of decay of the crossheads and down to river level of the piers.
‘‘They’re (crossheads) not really recoverable,’’ he said.
‘‘(Externally) looks fine but you can push your finger through them and they’re crumbling. The cross heads were falling into the river as they were taking the beams off, so we suspended (work) so that wouldn’t happen. At the current stage we can’t proceed any further.
‘‘There’s substantial decay. There’s a severe problem
‘‘We’ve got to look at ways of taking the rest of the decking off and retaining the integrity.’’
While there was some criticism of removing the stell girders off the bridge leaving it vulnerable to collapse, Mr Kelly said keeping them there could be worse.
‘‘You’d probably have catstrophic failure if the (timber) is decomposed to the level (it is so far). The whole thing could collapse, and it could happen overnight.
‘‘Taking the load off it and exposing it, that has the potential of actually saving the bridge, removing the (possibility of) catstrophic failure.’’
Mr Saker said the council was now looking at options to help maintain the structural integrity of the bridge.
‘‘One of the options is to replace it, but it all takes money and it’s something we haven’t budgeted for,’’ he said.
The council were also ‘‘obviously trying to recycle what we can out of it’’.
The explanations left some of those in attendance sceptical. One asked whether the council was serious about trying to retain the bridge ‘‘or is it just another exercise... to pull the thing down’’.
Cr Rhonda Sanderson, who with fellow North Ward councillor Bill Chsiholm was also present, said it wasn’t.
‘‘Our intention was to keep the bridge,’’ she said.
‘‘In order to do that we have to have testing done. I can hand on heart say my full intention was to save the bridge.’’
John Ware asked if the engineers had actually seen the evidence the piles were rotting, to which Mr Kelly replied he had.
Builder Greg Sharp was critical of the way the bridge had been stripped.
‘‘You’ve removed the part of the bridge and you don’t know what’s sitting under it,’’ he said.
‘‘To me, that’s a recipe for disaster. You say you know it’s rotting, but there’s no plan.’’
Lesley Dalziel asked the council representatives what could be done now, given a long period of mismanagement preceding the present council.
‘‘Are we still going to have a bridge at the end of this process?’’
Mr Saker said: ‘‘I would say the opportunity for it to be salvaged is less than for it to be saved.’’ While the bridge could be substantially modified, too much might lead to it not being considered a heritage bridge any longer.
Friends of the Bridge chairman John Jennings said the bridge was protected by the council’s heritage overlay, was recognised by it as one of Seymour’s icons and was one of the four remaining wooden bridges in Victoria ‘‘and probably the most significant structure on the whole of the (Old) Hume Hwy in Victoria’’.
‘‘It must be saved, it’s not a case of perhaps, it’s Seymour’s heritage,’’ he said.
‘‘Over the years we have lost so much of our heritage it’s ridiculous. We must save the bridge. If it’s not quite going to be the heritage bridge it was going to be, I think we just have to live with it.’’
Retired engineer Neil Harris put it another way.
‘‘There’s a simple rule in the engineering world if you really want to do something, you can do it,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s only the people who don’t want to do it who will drag you down.’’
Mr Saker said his team would continue with an engineering investigation and ‘‘take that back to council’’, as well as talking to Heritage Victoria.
‘‘It will come down to what the chances of saving it are,’’ he said.
‘‘It doesn’t look good at the moment (but) what are the options? Retain it as it is and put a few Bandaids on it or (does) it need to be demolished and replaced with something else?’’
Another meeting would be held between the council and Friends of the Bridge in coming weeks to discuss progress.
BREAKING: Emergency services called to unit fire on St Georges Rd in Shepparton.
Yarrawonga/Mulwala's largest ever professional golf event, the Shepparton BMW Senior Victorian Open, got underway today with 124 players hitting off from 8am to 1pm on Yarrawonga's Black Bull Golf Course at Silverwoods.
Tatura’s rainfall for the last three months of 2015, 116.6mm, was marginally down on the long-term average for the same period, 120.8mm.
JON Lam’s exhibition Heart to Art will open at Alton Gallery on Friday
ATHLETIC talent clearly runs in the Hayes family.
Special supplement in this weeks edition
For Tocumwal’s Lynda Snowden, working the land hasn’t stopped her from falling in love with the majestic surrounds of her day to day life.
TOOLLEEN Recreation Reserve Committee of Management presented three awards on Australia Day in front of 80 local residents.
The cuteness level at Maryanne Ryan’s place is overflowing the bucket, with the arrival of baby Dougal the donkey.
Deniliquin doctor Marion Magee says she is disgusted with the treatment of local nurses.
After 27 years of dairying, Undera farmer Rob Backway gave up 130 cattle to move into cropping — and he has never looked back.
The News magazines are online - read high quality magazines in your time. Check in regularly for the latest editions.
Riverine Herald's well regarded locally produced magazines. They're now online, so you can read them whenever and wherever you like.
Search for published and unpublished photos from McPherson Media Group newspapers and magazines. All our photos are available to purchase.
Place an advertisement in any one of McPherson Media Group's local newspapers.