Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Are November's resolutions still good for the new year?

TD8 and GTCC had their first meeting of 2010, on 17 Feb. The good news is, the mayor has confirmed that in addition to the $1m of borrowings approved last November, Council is prepared to dedicate their entire annual bridge budget of $1.3m for the next two years (that's $2.6m) towards building two permanent bridges (estimated to cost $4.6m) to replace Marlee and Duffs Bridges. We are all still waiting for a reply from the Hon David Campbell, Minister for Transport, to GTCC's request for $2m in assistance, so if you haven't emailed him, it's still worth doing: david@campbell.minister.nsw.gov.au

You may have been wondering what's happening with the temporary bridges that Council promised us as a matter of urgency. We had investigated some costs and options ourselves - like the Gloucester bridge and the Unibridge - but then at a meeting in mid November, Council staff began to research and consider a new option: the Army bridge. This involved making a formal application to the Minister for Defence (Senator John Faulkner), under their "Defence Assistance to the Civil Community" policy, requesting that he authorise the lending or hiring out of two army bridges to GTCC. Council's engineers had learned that the Defence Department had some 19 bridges currently in storage that are now "surplus to requirement" because the design has now been superseded.

The bad news is, Senator Faulkner has declined to assist. Rob Oakeshott took the Council's submission to him personally in December, and Rob has assured us he will still continue to pursue this. TD8 also sent an email in February urging him to help us. Council had asked us not to publicise their quest for Army bridges, until a reply had been received. Now that it has, if you feel strongly that it is morally indefensible for a public department to sit on a glut of unused surplus resources while the public, whose taxes paid for these resources, so desperately needs them elsewhere, then do send an email to Senator the Hon John Faulkner: Defence.Minister@defence.gov.au

Meanwhile, although we now have 8t instead of 2t on Marlee Bridge, many vehicles, including Col and Carmel's milk tanker, are still excluded and have to use the detour. Time has been wasted with hopes pinned on an option that is evaporating, and any temporary bridge is going to take yet more time. Given that the recent repairs to Marlee Bridge proved to be quick, cost-effective, and made a significant improvement, we are asking Council to consider carrying out further repairs, ASAP, on both bridges, to the extent that they could provide satisfactory temporary access while the permanent bridges are fast-tracked. We have requested time frames and details of proposed temporary and permanent solutions, in writing, from Council, and will pass these on as soon as they are provided.

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