WILD storms in the area last Friday caused major damage, leading to the destruction of a significant bridge approximately 40 kilometres from Bathurst.
The Bridle Track’s Howards Bridge, which Bathurst Regional Council said was built in 1937, was thought to have been hit by a torrent of water that has rendered it unusable.
“The storm event that hit Bathurst on Friday has resulted in Howards Bridge on the Bridle Track being severely damaged with the timber deck of the bridge washed away,” mayor Graeme Hanger said.
“The concrete piers remain in place.”
Given the damage, traffic has been diverted via Box Ridge Road and signage has been erected to advise the public of the diversion.
Cr Hanger said the bridge would be replaced, but that it would not happen in the immediate future.
“The bridge will need to be replaced with a new structure,” he said.
“Council is currently investigating options for temporary access across Winburndale Rivulet as it will take some time to seek relevant approvals and funding for a new bridge.”
In addition to Howards Bridge, Cr Hanger said that the storm had resulted in other minor damage to roads across the council area, with large amounts of debris across roads and potholing from the heavy rain.
The loss of the bridge has come as sad news to former Bathurst resident Karl Schaerf, a descendant of James Howard, who the bridge was named after.
It was the last timber bridge Mr Howard oversaw the construction of prior to his retirement from the old Turon Shire Council.
“It was a small recognition of my grandfather’s service to Turon Shire Council,” Mr Schaerf said of the name.
To his knowledge, the bridge had flooded on more than one occasion over the years, however he had no doubt the bridge was still sturdy and “fit for purpose”.
“It has just fallen victim to a rather torrential downpour in the catchment,” Mr Schaerf said.
He was happy that the bridge would be replaced after the damage, but said he would be following the situation closely to make sure the Howard name wasn’t lost in the process.
“I’ll be lobbying hard to make sure that they retain the name,” he said.
“It was named that name for a reason.”