Failed bridge holds harvest hostage

Weak links in the bush won't allow regional rebuild

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State Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin has called on her opposition party to act after this timber bridge failed inspection and now prevents farm produce from coming to market.

State Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin has called on her opposition party to act after this timber bridge failed inspection and now prevents farm produce from coming to market.

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Another timber bridge failure on the Northern Rivers highlights a problem with state funding

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Local authorities are calling on state government to allocate critical funding for regional infrastructure in a way that doesn't pit country needs against larger, more competitive projects.

The failure of an old timber bridge maintained by Lismore City and Richmond Valley councils has highlighted the issue, with farm produce stuck on the wrong side of the structure and no way to bring it to market.

Colin and Joan Thomas access their Bungabee Road property over Back Creek and recently harvested sorghum for silage. It is baled and stacked ready for sale. Since that time load limits plummeted from eight tonnes to two after council inspectors discovered one log beam nearly hollow with age. A car can cross but not a truck.

State Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin has called on her opposition party to act.

Kyogle Council has already been lobbying NSW government to help restore vital transport links in the bush by using a distribution model which looks at where communities are most in need.

"Government needs to allocate funding for a number of bridges over several years," argues council manager Graham Kennett.

"If there's good funding we can commit to a five year project and hire new staff, train apprentices. But we need increased resources," he said.

A clever modular system of building single span bridges up to 12m long works well for Kyogle which produces its own concrete panel for abutments and decking with steel girders for the span. However, tooling up requires time and investment.

"There are real advantages to regional areas by allocating money to councils over a long period of time.

"When funding comes year to year we cannot make a commitment to our labour."

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