In June the final girder was slotted into place on the new Tabulam Bridge to provide a safer crossing for the Bruxner Highway over the Clarence River.
In June the final girder was slotted into place on the new Tabulam Bridge to provide a safer crossing for the Bruxner Highway over the Clarence River.

LETTER: Who not to trust to save an old truss bridge

The History of a Transport for NSW lie

IT IS time the NSW Government brought Transport for NSW to heel, and require them to act with an appropriate code of ethics, which includes not lying when it comes to them wanting their solution to be adopted. To misquote the old saying: “There are lies, damned lies and then there is the TfNSW”.

Is this a harsh statement? From my experiences dealing with them, while trying to save two of our iconic truss bridges, it is justified. They effectively lie to get to do what they want to do, not what the people want, or what may be beneficial for the community. And they achieve this by lying.

I have documented such instances over the years of writing about the Sportsmans Creek and Tabulam bridges. Here is an example, which falls into the category of “what goes around comes around” and “if ya gonna lie you need to be consistent”.

1. At a Sportsmans Creek Bridge Q&A meeting in Lawrence, a local asked if they could they have some of the old timbers. The response was this was not possible because “the timbers are riddled with arsenic, lead, creosote and other hazardous substances and had to environmentally disposed of”.

2. But at Tabulam Bridge meeting they indicated that the timbers would be used by the councils to repair their old bridges.

3. I wrote to the RMS asking them if the arsenic, lead and creosote in the timbers required them to be environmentally disposed of, as there was no mention of this in the environmental document. Their reply in writing indicated it was actually only a problem during demolition, but after that they would be safe for reuse (think about that one for a while). Out of curiosity I watched the demolition of Sportsmans Creek Bridge and at no time did I see anti-ALC protective clothing being worn.

4. I wrote “On Thursday (18/6/20), a TV news story reported how the beautiful timbers from the old wooden bridges were being put to good use, making unique floor boards, doors, furniture and whatever for the powerful, the influential and the rich. Definitely for the rich because these useless pieces of scrap sell for exorbitant prices.” Were the buyers told about the arsenic, lead and creosote?

5. Jenna Thompson’s article (6/7/20) indicated that “TfNSW have confirmed that plans are still in place for the old Tabulam Bridge to be removed following completion of the new bridge.

“Unfortunately, due to the age of the bridge and some historic use of potentially harmful chemicals, such as arsenic and other materials used in maintenance, some contamination of bridge timbers may have occurred which would make them unsafe for re-use” a Transport for NSW spokesperson said.

Would you buy a used grader from this mob?

So, what should be done on the basis that once the remaining icon is gone, it’s gone? It would be appropriate for the government to remove the decision from TfNSW, any politician who has dealings with TfNSW (most seem to have TfNSW write their replies for them), and also unfortunately the Heritage Council of NSW who had incorrectly removed the bridge’s heritage status.

Hopefully the group selected would consider factors other than using it to make floorboards for the powerful, the influential and the rich.

John Ibbotson



Final plea to save historic bridge

Authorities to consult on future of historic bridge

Fate of historic timber bridge is not sealed


Send in your letters to the editor and texts to be featured online.


SMS the editor on 0431 375 205 with the word LETTER and a space in front of your message.

Add this shortcut to your favourites or follow the topic Clarence Letters to make sure you see all the latest letters to the editor.