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Why are we demolishing Batemans Bay bridge?

Dear Beagle Editor, This is a SOB story or rather a Save Our Bridge story. I am writing to present a proposal for a win/win project for town and council and even state that saves money and provides Batemans Bay with a unique tourist attraction. There has been much talk of the new bridge and how it will replace the old one but not much on whether there is a better option. Why do we need to demolish the old bridge? Why don’t we keep it? Not for traffic but for pedestrians. The bridge could be set to be permanently open for marine traffic with stairs and lift access to enable people to cross from one side of the river to the other. This would save money as the new road bridge would not need to accommodate pedestrians nor would it need pathway access. The cost of maintaining the old bridge, has been raised, but this figure would have been based upon it used for vehicles. With only pedestrian’s using it, the cost would be greatly reduced. The winch house level could provide a viewing platform to enjoy the Tollgates and Bay and also house a Bridge/Maritime Museum. Whilst the road part of the bridge could be used for small food outlets and tourist shops. These would then provide income to help maintain the reduced cost of upkeep of the bridge. Fishing platforms could be considered as part of its community use. As the cost of demolishing the bridge would be far greater to implement than the cost of construction of stairs and lifts for bikes and wheel chairs, any residual amount could then be used for other Council/Community projects. Planners and designers talk about the aesthetics of the new bridge and the usual rah-rah but in the end it will just be a big concrete bridge. Sometimes it is worth taking a step back and looking at what we are losing rather than what we are gaining, and in this situation the loss could be greater than the “gain”. The old bridge is not without its appeal and into the future will have greater and greater historical significance. It is also far more approachable to pedestrians than the huge monolith that is being created for vehicles. The new bridge will without doubt prove challenging to many less fit folk to cross the river by foot or wheel chair as there is a height to overcome and the distance is considerably longer. One must always keep in the mind the new bridge is not fundamentally for Batemans Bay but to improve the coastal highway for the future. If in the future the old bridge proves to be too expensive or unsuitable then it can be demolished but what’s the rush, is it just to fit into a budget time line? Maybe now is the time to consider this as an option as once it is gone it will never be replaced. Mike Hitchcock

Northside - early 1950's

#Opinion #Weekly

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