The historic Tabulam Bridge crossing of the Clarence River from helicopter.
The historic Tabulam Bridge crossing of the Clarence River from helicopter. John Ibbotson

Community essentially told to build a bridge and get over it

THE future of the historic Tabulam Bridge once it's demolished is as uncertain as whether it can be saved.

After being taken off the heritage list in 2016, the longest single-span timber bridge in the southern hemisphere is expected to come down in mid 2020, despite objections from the local indigenous, non-indigenous communities and local politicians.

Once the new $48 million Tabulam bridge is complete, the original 120-year-old bridge will be removed by the NSW Government because it costs too much to maintain, according to Roads and Maritime Services.

RMS had stated they would continue to "look at ways to remember the existing bridge and maintain the link between the bridge and the heritage values of Tabulam".

When the RMS was asked what would become of its structure upon removal, a spokeswoman said that due to contamination they would "potentially" try to reuse some of its timbers.

"Unfortunately, due to the age of the structure and some historic use of potentially harmful chemicals, such as arsenic and other materials used in maintenance, some contamination of bridge timbers has occurred," the spokeswoman said.

"It must therefore be handled carefully for the safety of the community.

"The management of timber truss bridges is complex as it must balance community and network needs with maintenance requirements, limited timber resources and heritage requirements.

"Roads and Maritime Services is liaising with local councils about the potential re-use of some timbers from Tabulam Bridge on other bridge maintenance projects in the local area, where safe to do so."

On Thursday, Lismore MP Janelle Saffin said she will go to the top to try and save the historic Tabulam bridge by taking the issue to parliament.

Page MP Kevin Hogan also showed his support and said: "The heritage value of this is important. I will work with my state colleagues if I'm re-elected to try and save this bridge".

Kyogle Mayor Danielle Mulholland said if the old Tabulam Bridge did come down, the council would happily re-use some of its salvageable timbers.

"I understand how the community feels and how they would love to keep the old bridge," Mayor Mulholland said.

"We've certainly gone to the RMS to let them know the community would like to keep the old bridge ... but they've come back and said it will be too expensive to maintain even as a walking bridge."

"Kyogle council have a bit of a history over reuse of materials and we are certainly committed to reuse materials were appropriate."

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