Monday, March 22, 2010



The view is looking decidedly dim, as we can now confirm that there is no help coming from the State Government. In a letter received on Friday 19 March, the Transport Minister David Campbell confirmed to TD8 that he has chosen to completely abandon Marlee and Duffs Bridges on Bulga Rd, despite our case, put strongly to him in a meeting last December, that this tourist drive to Ellenborough Falls is an important economic, social and cultural link between two regions.

His letter erroneously claims that our council receives State funding through "the Timber Bridges Replacement Program for bridges on regional roads". In fact, Greater Taree is not eligible for that program because none of our many ailing timber bridges are on regional roads; they are all on local roads which don't normally qualify for State assistance. That is why we approached the Minister in the first place seeking special assistance.

Bulga Rd used to be "Regional Rd 109" until it was declassified in 1995, leaving it totally a Council responsibility, complete with two large timber bridges nearing their use-by dates, namely Marlee and Duffs. In the most recent NSW Road Classification Review, the Panel refused Council's request to reinstate Bulga Rd as a regional road as it was not considered important enough. Mr Campbell has reconfirmed this position in his letter.

Meanwhile, our Council were rejected by the Federal Government Defence Minister Senator John Faulkner in their request to borrow two of the nineteen surplus army bridges that are no longer needed by the Defence Force. It seems Council are now reluctant to fall back on any other temporary bridge option, and are hoping the community will make do with the 8 tonne Marlee Bridge until the permanent bridges are built.

TD8 have made it clear to Council that this is not what was resolved at the November 18 Council meeting, when Councillors agreed to borrow up to $1m for temporary solutions that would quickly restore the previous 25 tonne capacity. The current 8 tonnes still excludes many vehicles that are important for businesses, farmers and residents. However, a compromise between 8 tonnes and 25 tonnes could perhaps be negotiated.

Accordingly, we are inviting contact from anyone in the community who requires access for vehicles above 8 tonnes and is not content to use the detour for another 18 months to 2 years. Please contact or phone 6550 4466 or 6550 5164. You should also make your needs known directly to Council's Executive Leader Asset Management, Mr Ron Posselt, 6592 5399.

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