It is fast becoming evident that the Batemans Bay bridge design has a long way to go.
The RMS have provided a nice curved blue line as a starting point however that is as good as it got when locals started to ask questions. The first serous question was the end height. It was revealed that instead of the current clearance height of 23 m the new bridge would be 12 to 13m. That annoyed the sailors and those who consider that the Port of Nelligen be respected and, as such, vessels with masts greater than 12 - 13m high be given access to the upper safe reaches of the Clyde River.
The next serious question was in regards to the retention of the boat ramp on Clyde Street west that provides deep water access to the Clyde. In comparison to its shallow sandy cousins across the bay the Clyde Street West boatramp has regional importance. The RMS had advised that this boatramp would be closed because they thought all boatramps were the same and that those using the southern ramp would happily just cross the river. Turns out they were embarrassed when it was revealed that their information was incorrect. The next interesting chain of events came at the question of access to Clyde Street west from the Princes Highway heading north. The RMS advised that this would not be available. For anyone wishing to access Clyde Street West they would have to turn off the highway down North Street and then continue along Clyde Street passing under the new bridge. It was stated by RMS that the height of this east west underpass would be as high as a garbage truck. The height was determined by the approach angle of the bridge that went from chainage 0.0 outside Kentucky Fried to an elevation of an approach ramp that would transition to a clearance height of 12-13 m. The soft angle of the bridge was, as stated by RMS conducive to a wheel chair friendly gradient. At the public meetings the RMS advised that they had been working closely with Council on the design however Council were more than flummoxed at yesterday's briefing coming to terms with the fact that there would be no left turn into Clyde Street from the north and that they would have to totally rethink their traffic flow of local and interstate buses through the Batemans Bay CBD. Of little consideration to Council staff was a primary issue of concerns to recreational fishers regarding the construction of the new bridge and the protection of fish habitat to ensure the long term availability of fish stocks. The RMS were advised that this becomes even more important when in a Marine Park. It is well known to those involved in research and recreational fishing that pylon’s of a bridge crossing a river are significant habitat and shelter to all types of marine life. The next thing that Councillors and the RMS needed to get their heads around was the loss of access. At the first community meeting advice was provided that two boat ramps, adjacent to the existing bridge would be removed from the north and south shore lines. Over a period of time both facilities have been developed to an acceptable facility using recreational fishers/boaters fees from boating and registration fees. It was more than disappointing that recreational fishers learned that these facilities would need to be replaced especially when one has recently been completed. No advice was provided as to where these council owned facilities would be relocated or if the same or larger facilities would be provided (double lane ramp, adequate trailer parking, cleaning table, public toilets, and adjacent beach access). It is understood from discussions with the RMS that the Eurobodalla Council is supportive of a development to upgrade the foreshore to the south western side of the existing bridge. If that is to occur as part of the project it has been requested that an opportunity be taken to improve shore base fishing. The provision of rock wall type construction is not user friendly to estuary fishing as a platform is needed to cater for all the community especially those who are less mobile. There has been considerable discussion regarding the retention of the old bridge based on its iconic heritage. There is merit in considering keeping it as a community asset for pedestrian use only. There has been a request for consideration be given to retaining part of the bridge structure. Yes there would be some maintenance costs but that applies to any development. The following are considered benefits; *A tourist attraction, just to say you walked on the old bridge. *Retain the adjacent old punt launching ramp so the area indicated the three modes of transport over the history of the river. *Provide an historic bill board on the remaining part of the bridge indicating the history of the area. *Encourage business to use the small part of the remaining bridge of activities like kiosk, coffee truck, oyster sales, park seating, special event such a fireworks displays provide park type seating, lighting, external photographic photo displays/competitions, school education excursions, limited bike riding and recreational fishing from the end of the structure. The access is already user friendly allowing wheelchair access and those with some disabilities to access without walk long a distance as a car park is adjacent. This presents itself as a one off opportunity never to available again much like the sport and culture grant however it would require no money and the return would be immediate. What has been more than evident with recent meetings is that the RMS have clearly not considered the detail of aesthetics, heritage, traffic flow or social consequence and for that matter neither has Eurobodalla Council.