Historic bridge in need of repair
THE historic Old Gympie Railway Station footbridge is in worse shape than anyone realised, with repairs done a few years ago already superseded by the forces of weather and rot.
The footbridge, a responsibility of the Mary Valley Heritage Railway, should be closed as soon as a substitute level pedestrian crossing is built, according to a report to yesterday’s meeting of Gympie Regional Council Works and Services Committee. In the meantime, the MVHR announced last week the bridge will be load limited to a two-person maximum.
MVHR manager Jim Walker said the load limit would make the bridge safer after an engineer’s report had identified significant deterioration through the structure.
Yesterday’s meeting was told a planned pedestrian level crossing would serve until major rebuilding work is completed and would have the advantage of being “all-abilities” compliant.
“Council will proceed with the at-grade pathway to ensure that there is a structurally safe crossing as soon as possible,” council engineering director Bob Fredman told the meeting in his report.
The report also recommended that repairs to the bridge be undertaken in steel and said the MVHR had agreed to consider this option.
“To date they have received no significant offers of help,” the report said.
Mayor Ron Dyne said a problem with the heritage bridge was that hardwood timber of the quality once routinely available was now much more difficult to find.
“The access we’re putting in will be compatible with disabled access. A lot of people are concerned about the historical aspect of the bridge but disabled access also has to be considered.”
Cr Dyne said there was “just not the timber available that there was when the bridge was built and maybe steel is a good alternative”.
“Maybe the community needs to have some discussion.”
Committee chairman Larry Friske said council had at one time replaced a historic structure with steel “and it took a long time for anyone to notice”.
“There needs to be some discussion between the purists who want everything as it was and the way we have to do things today.
“The heritage people need to understand that half a loaf is better than no loaf at all,” he said.