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"We will buy the old bridge"

A private consortium of business and tourism representatives will seek to buy the Yarrawonga Mulwala bridge to save it from demolition and make it a passive recreation walkway and bike track.

RACHEAL WILLETT February 18, 2014 3:45pm

Former Yarrawonga councillor, business owner and local identity John Lawless told the Yarrawonga Chronicle talks had begun with interested members of the bridge consortium.

 “I’m already speaking with a consortium of investors who are willing to buy the bridge and cover the ongoing costs of necessary maintenance,” he said.

“This can happen because there is a firm belief within the community that the bridge needs to stay and we cannot allow it to be removed.

“I don’t want to be answerable to my children and their children in years to come when they look

back and say ‘why did you let this terrible thing happen – why didn’t you do something ?’”

VicRoads North Eastern Regional Director Bryan Sherritt last week revealed an in principle agreement had been reached between the two state roads authorities – VicRoads and Roads and Maritime Services and the two councils – Moira and Corowa – to remove the existing bridge once a new crossing is built by 2020.

The roads authorities have always said they would only maintain one crossing leaving the financial responsibility of the existing bridge to fall to the two councils - an unlikely prospect according to Mr Lawless.

“Realistically neither council can afford to pay for the upkeep of the bridge,” he said.

“That’s why we need to start talking about this now so we can put together a proposal to buy the bridge and ensure it remains for the benefit of Yarrawonga and Mulwala.”

Mr Lawless said the removal of the existing bridge would rob locals and visitors of the much-loved two bridge link.

“If you keep that bridge as a crossing for pedestrians and cyclists you maintain an integral connection that allows people to walk from the clubs and holiday accommodation directly to the

Yarrawonga shopping precinct,” he said.

“By having those two passive crossings – the old weir walkway and the old bridge - it allows the green route bypass to not have to be saddled with a pedestrian crossing on one side, making it a lot safer and cheaper.

“If you remove that connection people have to get in their cars, drive from their accommodation to the bridge and then come back to Belmore Street to park, adding to traffic congestion.

“Keep the existing bridge; build the new bridge on the green route and people can still walk ‘the loop’ of the two crossings. A pastime that is enjoyed greatly by both locals and visitors.

“I’m confident 95% of the local community want to keep that bridge, so now what we need to do is find a way to make that happen.”

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