23 January, 2021
OPINION - A troubled bridge over water
In November Transport and Main Roads (TMR) announced that the Barron River Bridge in Kuranda would be reduced down to one lane and no class one heavy vehicle would be allowed on the bridge. Thus reducing one of the most overused roads in Queensland to nothing more than a trickle
In November Transport and Main Roads (TMR) announced that
the Barron River Bridge in Kuranda would be reduced down to one lane and no
class one heavy vehicles would be allowed on the bridge.
Thus reducing one of the most overused roads in Queensland to nothing more than a trickle
TMR said at the time this was due to inspections taking place on the bridge and that there was nothing to be concerned about. The closure triggered a lot of anxiety in locals who started asking questions about why the bridge continues to operate at one lane while there are no staff on the bridge such as weekends and late nights.
It’s also no coincidence that the bridge was reduced to one lane straight after the Queensland state election.
We have asked TMR and the Roads Minister Mark Bailey on several occasions what specifically are TMR staff inspecting and we have been given the same vague answers every time.
Their response, “We are carrying out inspections on the Barron River Bridge, near Kuranda.
The bridge has been reduced to one lane until these inspections are complete.
The current load limit of 50.5t has been in place since February 2019 and we currently have no plans to change the load limit. Further action may be needed depending on the investigation outcomes.
We will receive a report next month (February), which will provide recommendations, including a likely timeframe for the single-lane closure.
We thank motorists and residents for their patience and will provide further updates as more information becomes available.” Their answers tell us nothing.
Another question we asked The Minister was ‘Can the Minister guarantee that the bridge is safe’? He chose not to answer that question. If the bridge is safe why can’t it be opened to two lanes, if the bridge is not safe, why are they allowing cars onto it?
The silence has also been deafening from Barron River MP Craig Crawford and Cook MP Cynthia Lui, neither of them have said a word about the bridge closure or tried to alleviate any of their constituent’s fears. Leading up the state election, we heard lots of noise about looking into another road between the Tablelands and Cairns, now all we hear is tumbleweeds until the next election.
By reducing the bridge down to one lane they are slowly choking the Tablelands and Far North Queensland. Any trucks that need to move stock or produce from the cape or the Tablelands now need to go via Charters Towers to get to the coast.
The other concern is the discovery of signs that have been hidden away with a 25-tonne load limit. If this were to happen it would cripple the Tablelands, the gulf and the cape. The average bus with no passengers weighs between 18 – 20 tonnes. That’s not a lot of wiggle room for busses, truck drivers and transport operators.
As residents and taxpayers we deserve more, not only do we deserve answers, we deserve to know if our safety is in jeopardy and why the department is being so arrogant with their answers.
The Mareeba Shire Council even tried asking hard questions to TMR and the minister with no luck. The contempt for local residents who use the bridge from our local state members, the TMR and the Minister is betrayal of the highest order and it needs to change immediately.
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