TIARO Chamber of Commerce president Darryl Stewart is seething over what he sees as a snub from the State Government over the Mary River Bridge.
“We have not had the courtesy of a reply from the Minister for Main Roads Craig Wallace to the letter sent on May 17 from the Tiaro and District Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the residents and businesses,” Mr Stewart said.
The bridge on the road to Mungar closed in early March for flood repairs and was expected to reopen at the end of June. However Mr Stewart said that when the bridge reopened it would still be the same height and only one lane.
“The bridge is a vital transport link in the Tiaro region and should be raised above flood level and widened to two lanes.”
He said this week that the bridge had still not opened and no official advice had been received.
“Businesses have lost around 30 per cent of turnover since closure and there’s no announcement in the budget about any future funding for a new bridge.”
Mr Stewart said the State Government had announced $6 million funding for the replacement of a one-lane bridge over Degilbo Creek near Biggenden but nothing for the bridge at Tiaro.
“We have no problem with (the Degilbo Creek bridge) replacement and it should be on the program but all classes of traffic can presently access that bridge at any time. Modern heavy commercial vehicles cannot access the Tiaro Bridge at all.
“The minister justified prioritisation replacement by a vehicle count of 400 per day. Tiaro bridge has an official count of more than 600 vehicles per day excluding the many vehicles that cannot even access it.
“If the reopening of the bridge is imminent, the minister still has not responded to our invitation to inform the people of Tiaro and district why they are not entitled to a new bridge and/or to perform the reopening ceremony on behalf of the State Government.
“If he is not available on the appropriate day, then we extend the invitation to the Premier.”
A Main Roads spokesman said the minister would first need to receive an invitation, including the date of a reopening ceremony, in order to confirm whether he would be available to attend.
Meanwhile, works to fast track repairs and reopen the Mary River Bridge to motorists were expected to be completed by June 30.
“At this stage, there is no planning under way or funding allocated to replace the Mary River Bridge as priority for expenditure is given to higher order routes carrying high volumes of traffic and freight.”
“The department is working to replace all timber bridges across the road network, however expenditure must be carefully prioritised so that funds are allocated to works identified as being needed the most.
“When funding is allocated for future projects, issues such as the volume and type of traffic, strategic importance of the road, condition of the road and the safety record are all considered.”