Rickety bridge frustrates families after bus route changed
A SUDDEN change to school bus routes in the Byron hinterland, thanks to a dilapidated bridge, has thrown local family school routines into chaos.
O'Mearas Bridge, halfway between Federal and Bangalow Rd, has been closed indefinitely to school buses and trucks after a recent council inspection.
Families living along Byron Shire's Binna Burra Rd are furious with Byron Shire Council after being informed about the change less than a week before it was introduced.
Mum of three Joelle Baker will now spend another hour on the road each day to drop her children off to the nearest bus stop.
"It's frustrating," Ms Baker said.
Another local Bija Nicolson, mum of two high school students, said the change would have a huge impact on her and her husband.
"We both work nine to five in Ballina, so our problem is we got told on Tuesday that there would no longer be a bus service as of Monday next week," Ms Nicolson said.
"It was less than a week, and we are in a predicament. My main concern is if I can't get there in time my kids are standing by the side of the highway on their own."
Byron Shire Council's director infrastructure services Phil Holloway responded, saying "when a report recommends the lowering of the load limit, we need to respond quickly".
"In this instance we were able to give 10 days notice to the school bus companies, install signage and run advertisements and notify nearby residents the week prior," he said.
But residents say the council has known about the failing bridge, known as "the rickety bridge" for years.
"Last year they tried to close it (for repairs) and the bus line said they should do it over the school holidays, and come the school holidays they did nothing," Ms Baker said.
Ms Nicolson said she was notified three weeks ago about a new garbage pickup day (presumably because the garbage trucks couldn't use the bridge), so the council clearly knew well before.
The council has applied for a grant for a new concrete bridge unde the Federal Government's Bridge Renewal Program, but won't know if it is successful until the end of the year.