Gympie Regional Council are tossing up pulling down the historic Railway Bridge at The Mary Valley Heritage Railway after cost concerns.
Gympie Regional Council are tossing up pulling down the historic Railway Bridge at The Mary Valley Heritage Railway after cost concerns. Craig Warhurst

'Hit and miss' council planning could be costly: letter

SUNSHINE Coast Council is investing in solar in a big way.

Fraser Coast Council is providing 24 central free RV parking places with 50 overflow parks at the airport capturing the tourist dollar.

Gympie Regional Council is investing our rate dollars in a private company, the Mary Valley Rattler, that has been in a coma for five years and council is trying to tell us it has been on life support.

Flashback: Gympie Times, Thursday, July 31, 1997. Heritage rattler makes trial run. Caption: The Valley Rattler makes a trial run in preparation for the launch of the mary Valley Heritage Railway on August 22. Pictured are volunteer driver Pat Daly and guard kevin Power. Photo Greg Miller / The Gympie Times
Flashback: Gympie Times, Thursday, July 31, 1997. Heritage rattler makes trial run. Caption: The Valley Rattler makes a trial run in preparation for the launch of the mary Valley Heritage Railway on August 22. Pictured are volunteer driver Pat Daly and guard kevin Power. Photo Greg Miller / The Gympie Times

None of the arteries have been maintained and bridges that hold these arteries together are stated by the Mayor to have been maintained by council (refer Channel 7 news, February 21, 2017).

Photo of the damaged Railway Line used by the
Photo of the damaged Railway Line used by the "Rattler". Unfortunately this could be classed as pretty serious damage. This site is only about 4/500meters up from the Kandanga Railway Station, and was certainly washed out very badly. In the background of course is the Kandanga Bowling Clubhouse as in the other photo.

If maintenance around town is any gauge where it's all hit and miss (refer Louisa St/Parsons Rd), the safety of passengers will be at risk. The architects of the project should be at the helm and if necessary go down with the ship.

It's not rocket science to realise many of these railway bridges are 100 to 125 years old and must be nearing or past their design life.

Highly trained specialist staff would be required to maintain these bridges.

Could council kindly provide the shareholders - being Gympie region ratepayers and now every taxpayer in Queensland - with the names and qualifications of these trained staff?

Proper investigation should be conducted prior to the start of a project, not after commencement (refer staff forgetting about or not checking the rates register for contaminated soil at the aquatic centre).

So prior to the commencement of any public Rattler bridge travel, council should provide the test results from core samples taken from the concrete piers and timber trestles, details of tests conducted on timber embedded bolt corrosion, steel rivet and bolt corrosion, steel loss between back to back steel components and additionally lead paint identification should be undertaken.

Many of these tests are important to ensure the bridges are safe for use particularly when under significant load as the Rattler crosses the bridges.

Has anyone witnessed or tested structural performance whilst a 100-tonne locomotive is crossing a bridge?

If one of the major bridges needed to be replaced the price could end up similar to the 12.6km Moreton Bay Rail Link that cost $1.2 billion, locomotive not included.

Council estimates (by a visual report) that it will require $10.8 million to bring half these arteries back to life and at some stage one of these bridges is going to fail and end badly for the shareholders and passengers, possibly in a law suit especially if deaths occur.

The architects will simply move on and not be liable (like ex-Premier Beattie being rewarded with a top diplomatic post after the failed Traveston Dam).

The laws need to change and these people need to be held accountable as if they were using their own money and not the Mayor's "free money" as referred to in a recent letter, The Gympie Times, February 11.

This project has always been on life support and always will be.

Any monetary return - if any is actually achieved without further ratepayer and taxpayer subsidy - would always be chewed up through maintenance and replacement of infrastructure, insurance, Rattler Company directors' fees and wages for the new bureaucrats to be employed.

At some stage of your life, you must rest in peace. Sometimes a monument is better than continual life support.

Councillors need to ask questions from qualified personnel regarding details of reports and the state of these bridges as of 12 months ago.

Have any councillors followed up the petition tabled on Wednesday, October 26, 2016?

They may be able to make an informed decision that possibly the track and sleeper replacement is the last place to start.

It's time this council became creative with some fresh investment ideas.

Ross Caulfield,

Gympie.

Gympie Times


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