AN old timber bridge with local heritage significance will be demolished as soon as possible, with Bathurst Regional Council opting for an alternate development process to expedite its plans.
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Council has been planning the demolition of two bridges on Tarana Road at Gemalla, known as Eusdale Creek Bridge and Stony Creek Bridge, for months.
It received funding under the Bridge Renewal Program and Fixing Country Bridges programs to carry out works, with council staff having since completed detailed design, environmental assessments and arranged for acquisition of adjoining land as required.
However, during assessment of these bridges it was noted that Eusdale Creek Bridge has been classified as being of local heritage significance, while the status of the Stony Creek Bridge, which is of similar construction, is pending.
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Director of Engineering Services, Darren Sturgiss, said council identified that these bridges require development consent to be demolished due to their heritage classification.
"Council engineers have proceeded with development consent for these bridges, but due to the proximity of the bridges to the rail corridor, it was deemed warranted that concurrence be sought from UGL Regional Linx, as the contracted rail authority, for consent to be issued," he said.
"A number of conflicting historical records with respect to this site have since caused the development assessment process to stall, with advice from UGL Regional Linx being provided that a decision could now be delayed up to six months while these matters are clarified."
Council was prepared to wait, but then the Bathurst region was hit with significant rainfall, leading to major flooding and flood damage.
The bridges were not immune.
Mr Sturgiss said severe weather and flooding events had caused "critical damage to structural elements" of Eusdale Bridge.
"An engineering assessment of the structure has identified that the bridge is no longer suitable for service, and without urgent attention, this bridge will need to be closed or have severe weight limits placed upon it to ensure the safety of members of the public using this road," he said.
Given the damage, council engineers nominated to proceed with the demolition project under Section 2.109 of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Transport and Infrastructure).
This grants the public authority the right to carry out road infrastructure facility works on any land without consent, with particular reference to emergency works.
Believing it has met the requirements, council on December 14 resolved to adopt the Review of Environmental Factors for the construction of new bridges on Tarana Road, Gemalla over Eusdale Creek and Stony Creek.
This document is required in place of a Statement of Environmental Effects.
Council also resolved to immediately arrange for the demolition of the existing timber bridge over Eusdale Creek and construction of a side access track on the site.
It will also proceed to tender for the design and construction of new bridges on these two sites.
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