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General News

7 December, 2022

Bridges plan reveals big costs for TRC

FIFTEEN bridges in the Tablelands region will have to be replaced during the next nine years as part of a major new plan to address the maintenance and renewal of bridges and major culverts throughout the area.

By Robyn Holmes

Bridges plan reveals big costs for TRC - feature photo

The asset management plan, endorsed by Tablelands Regional Council at its recent meeting, revealed replacing bridges with load limits would cost council upwards of $16 million over that period, and stressed more emphasis had to be placed on Level 2 inspections of bridges, with $240,000 a year required to undertake a comprehensive inspection program.

The plan reveals council has 38 concrete bridges, 38 composite (contains different materials) bridges, six timber bridges, 16 pedestrian bridges and 112 major culverts, with a current replacement value of $63.3 million.

“Based on current load limits that are being applied to TRC bridges and major culverts, there are 18 structures that are not meeting the desired levels of service,” the report stated.

“Based on current information, our present funding levels are insufficient (in particular maintenance funding)….. which will lead to an increase in deterioration resulting in additional load limits, closures and increased reactive maintenance costs.”

Deputy Mayor Cr Kevin Cardew seized upon the report to propose that a dedicated crew be established to carry out Level 2 inspections of the bridges, saying council “had dropped the ball” when it came to the proper maintenance of its bridges and culverts.

“We’re behind the eight ball - we have got to get going – we can’t adopt this plan unless we have a crew to undertake the works, unless it’s just a waste of time,” he said.

Cr Peter Hodge agreed, saying there was no value in endorsing the plan without the means to be able to implement it.

Infrastructure Services general manager Mark Viz confirmed the council did have the capacity to undertake the inspection program, saying more staff and resources would be required.

The Level 2 inspections would be required to give council a clearer picture of which bridges would need to be replaced.

But councillors did not agree with establishing a dedicated work crew for the inspection program and the motion was lost.

The asset management plan documents the current state of play in relation to the condition of bridges and culverts, noting that on 66 per cent of its bridges were structurally sound and fit for purpose, and that only 1 per cent of Level 2 inspections were carried out in 2021-22.

Nine bridges were considered to be in “poor” condition, three deemed “very poor”, and one is considered to be “unsafe”. Culverts were an even more concerning, with 52 considered to be in “poor” condition, 15 “very poor”, and seven deemed to be “unsafe”.

The plan notes TRC’s current maintenance budget for the infrastructure is well below the Queensland Treasury Corporation (QTC) model, with only around $90,000 allocated in 2020-21 and 2021-22, compared to the QTC model of more than $440,000 a year. That figure mirrors what the new plan recommends going forward

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