Historic footbridge may be lost
THE life of an historic pedestrian footbridge that connects the heritage listed Gympie Railway Station with the Railway Hotel may soon be over with council running out of money to maintain and upgrade the structure.
At Tuesday’s Gympie Regional Council Works and Services Committee meeting councillors agreed to talk to the Mary Valley Heritage Railway (MVHR) regarding replacing the footbridge with a path at ground level.
At the meeting it was revealed $80,000 had been set aside in the budget to tear down the bridge and construct the “at grade” crossing.
But MVHR general manager Jim Walker said he would be “very disappointed” to see the “very interesting piece of heritage industrial engineering disappear from our railway precinct”.
Mr Walker said the footbridge was a very popular vantage point for photographers and there were high volumes of people who used it, not only tourists but anyone walking up Station Street into town.
Mayor Ron Dyne agreed the bridge was of historical value but said council couldn’t afford to keep every historical structure and the bridge was beyond repair.
While Works and Services Committee chair Cr Larry Friske said the cost of timber was “horrific” and it was better value to rip it down.
“We'll go broke maintaining all the heritage (structures),” Cr Dyne said.
A consultant council hired discovered about 80 per cent of the bridge deck was rotten.
Cr Friske said it wasn’t worth saving and Cr Dyne agreed saying it would cost nearly $200,000 to rebuild the bridge.
A report has revealed an “at grade” crossing can’t be built if the bridge is left in place and it needs urgent action either repairs or loading restrictions.
Gympie National Trust chairman Bob Fredman said the important part of the MVHR, the stations and the lines, had been saved.
“We have to accept maintenance costs of some of these things are very high. If council considers it’s unfair to put the cost on rate payers we have to accept,” he said.
Mr Fredman said it was a regrettable fact the bridge was too expensive to maintain.
MVHR completed maintenance on the bridge five years ago.