The new bridge at Lawrence crossing Sportsman Creek.
The new bridge at Lawrence crossing Sportsman Creek.

LETTERS: Plea to save old bridge

FOR the volume of traffic, particularly trucks, which use Lawrence Rd, it was essential that a replacement for the 110-year-old Sportsmans Creek Bridge was built. It has been a delightful, but unfortunately wet Peoples Day (24/2), put on by the RMS, allowed people to examine the new bridge and see what an impressive structure it is.

But the old bridge should be retained to determine if it can still be used productively, as a Peoples Bridge.

The MBK 1998 report prepared for the RMS, contained major objectives. Two were:

"To upgrade bridges for continued use", and "To make them accessible so they will give people the opportunity to have a close look them, and become acquainted with all their details, but if the bridges are not accessible, then the overall social significance of the (remaining) bridges is reduced".

Why are the Sportsmans, Tabulam and other bridges, which were highly rated in the 1998 report being demolished? It's because the RMS 2010-11 implementation plan failed to take accessibility into account.

According to the RMS they are (supposedly) not financially structured to maintain non-operable bridges, so they advised the councils they would have to take on the (high?) maintenance costs, which councils could not afford. As a result the bridges would be de-constructed and the accessibility objective would be null and void, because most people (wisely) don't wander about on operating bridges.

But the financial restriction is a furphy as the RMS are retaining three, almost identical replaced bridges on the Murray River, using their "Operable Via Adaptive Reuse" (OVAR) capability. Amazing what southern political pressure can achieve.

Our leaders should be angry that they've been duped. And if they requested it, our bridges could become OVAR bridges.

Keeping our bridges would also help achieve another 1998 objective, which recommended a spatial distribution of bridges across NSW, whether operable or non-operable, but this has not occurred.

A line through Scone divides the state (area wise) in two. In the northern half there will only be two bridges retained and in the southern half 24. Hardly equitable!

It would be a great outcome if the RMS would reconsider the demolition of our bridges, and keep them as OVAR bridges, as the decisions made in 2010 are not acceptable in 2018.

This would not only double the number of northern bridges, and contribute to the accessibility objective, but they are two of the very few 100+ year public icons of significant historical, cultural and tourism importance in the north-east.

Just like today's Peoples' Day there should be a Peoples' Day every day, on the old bridges, so our current and future generations can also marvel at these amazing old pieces of engineering and their unique history, without having to go to Swan Hill.

John Ibbotson, Gulmarrad

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