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28 January, 2021

Pressure mounts over bridge

The pressure is mounting on Transport and Main Roads (TMR) and the Minister to come clean on what they know about the problems currently associated with the Barron River Bridge.

By Phil Brandel

Traffic backed up due to the single lane closure on the Barron River Bridge

The pressure is mounting on Transport and Main Roads (TMR) and the Minister to come clean on what they know about the problems currently associated with the Barron River Bridge.

The bridge was closed to one lane in November, while TMR carries out inspection works. The bridge also remains one lane even when inspections are not taking place or when staff are not on site. Signs have also been spotted that have a reduced weight limit of 25 tonnes adding to the anxiety of locals and transport operators.

Member for Hill Shane Knuth has sought a meeting with the Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey to explain the bridge situation.

Mr Knuth said it was a very serious issue and he has contacted the Ministers office for an urgent meeting.

“The Barron River Bridge being reduced to one lane is a serious issue,” Mr Knuth said.

He said hopes to discuss with the Minister the condition and future of the bridge and a new highway to Cairns which has been pursued for over 30 years.

Last week The Express asked TMR specifically what is wrong with the Barron River Bridge, a spokesperson said.

 “The bridge is safe but we have identified some issues, which require further investigation,” they said.

“The bridge has been reduced to one lane, while we carry out inspections.

“The lane closure is a precautionary measure while our team of experts carries out their investigations.

‘Further action may be needed depending on the outcome of these investigations.”

While rumours swirl around the safety of the Barron River Bridge, The Express also asked the local Members could they guarantee the safety of the bridge?

The Express asked Barron MP Craig Crawford twice could he “Guarantee the safety of the Barron River Bridge.” 

On both occasions, Mr Crawford answered “TMR has advised on a number of occasions that the bridge is safe,” Mr Crawford said.

The Express asked Ms Lui the same question responding “The Member for Cook Cynthia Lui is listening to the community and is making sure the Minister for Transport and Main Roads is kept informed of the concerns raised,” she wrote.

“TMR has advised on a number of occasions that the bridge is safe. TMR is expected to receive a report next month which will provide recommendations on the way forward.”

The lack of personal guarantees is troubling some residents like the owner of Lamont Transport at Dimbulah William Lamont who said the information being given out by TMR was not good enough.

“They should let the public know what is going on and be more transparent,” he said.

“If they drop the weight limit of the bridge it’s going to severely impact my business.

“If they close the bridge we will have to use the Palmerston and that’s going to add hours to the trip, we would only be able to do one trip per day then.

“If all the truck start using the Palmerstone and the Gillies it’s just going to destroy those roads.”

Mr Lamont said he doesn’t understand the 50.5-tonne limit. “When it’s closed to one lane and they have traffic lights you get three semi-trailers lined up and on the bridge at the same time,” he said.

“It just doesn’t make sense; I can’t work it out, because a fully loaded semitrailer can weigh over 40 tonnes.

“I was hoping the TMR or The Minister would email a few of the transport owners and operators to let us know what is going on, but we have heard nothing.”

If the bridge does need to be closed for repairs another route is yet to be found and a TMR spokesperson said that Quaids Road through Wangetti was not an option.

 “We have carried out extensive investigations into the condition of the privately-owned Quaids Road and do not consider it a viable alternative route to Kuranda Range Road,” they said.


 

 

 

 

   


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