Kyogle's timber bridges an accident waiting to happen

KYOGLE Shire's aging timber bridges are an accident waiting to happen, as demonstrated by the collapse of Heards Bridge on Gradys Creek Rd recently.

The 24.3m long bridge, spanning a drop of at least 4m, buckled and was quickly closed by Kyogle Council on January 28.

Derryn Nix, the council's infrastructure works engineer, said it was unclear whether a vehicle was crossing at the time.

The council inspected the bridge late last year and found it had structural issues, which led to the implementation of a 20 tonne load limit.

About 70 timber bridges in the shire are more than 60 years old and need maintenance or replacement.

Mr Nix said the council feared someone would be injured or killed during a bridge failure, adding it was doing all it could to avoid such a situation.

Old Bonalbo resident Terry Moody said he was worried the shire's bridges would not get proper funding for repairs or replacement until a tragedy occurred.

"The chances of something bad happening are increasing all the time," he said. "People in the area are just ignoring the situation."

Mr Moody said he had recently seen at least six incidents where an overweight vehicle had used one of the shire's many load-limited bridges.

"I've seen heavy earthmoving equipment driven straight over, or machinery that is way over the load limit," he said.

Mr Nix was alarmed to hear drivers were taking the risk and said the council strongly recommended against such actions.

Mr Moody, who runs the Kyogle Bridge Action Facebook page, was concerned the shire's residents weren't taking the push for better bridges seriously.

He has been encouraging Kyogle residents to lobby the Federal Government for funding under its Bridges Renewal Program to fix the shire's bridges.

"I've had an extremely underwhelming response from the public," he said.

"Unless one of the bridges on their road fails or there is an issue with a bridge on their road, they just don't care."

The council is hopeful it will get a badly-needed cash injection in the next round of funding due later this year.

Heards Bridge will be closed for repairs until February 20.