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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

A job half done : when miserly doesn't cut it - Minister, where are our bridge lights?

The official opening of the Batemans Bay bridge this weekend will give the community to ask the Transport NSW team "Where the bloody 'ell are the lights you promised" Unlike just about every modern bridge on the planet the Batemans Bay Bridge will not be sporting the feature lighting that turns a $274 million extrusion of concrete, steel and asphalt into a civic sculptural piece. At the outset the bridge was intended to be illuminated at night with feature lighting that changed colours and featured the form of the structure. Lighting intended to make it more than a bland functional replacement for a bridge that had style, personality and its own degree of 'art'. Oddly the bridge is fully wired for the lighting but Transport NSW don't want to install the bulbs. The Batemans Bay Chamber of Commerce reported in April that the NSW Government "does not want to complete the installation of lights, specifically the LED globes to existing wired fittings due to ongoing maintenance cost of globe replacement".

Above: Nothing like a double standard. Good for the city but not for regional NSW? The Bennelong Bridge, previously called Homebush Bay Bridge, officially opened to the public in late May 2016. The bridge stretches approximately 300 metres across Homebush Bay between Rhodes and Wentworth Point and provides two bus only lanes as well as a shared cyclist and pedestrian path. Advice at the time was from Mayor Hatcher to the Chamber was that "Council is pursuing this matter with Transport for NSW". In a statement to the media a Transport for NSW spokesperson said that they "considered" installing feature lights but "After further investigation, Transport for NSW decided feature lighting would not be included at this stage due to safety concerns and financial, technical and maintenance impacts. Provision for feature lighting has been built into the power supply to the bridge. All current electrical and lighting installations for the bridge have a 20-year design life." Has Batemans Bay been short changed? It appears so. Transport for NSW now claim that it would be a further $1 million to commit to maintaining the lights as they would have to have a special craft with a suitably inducted crew to maintain or replace the lightbulbs. It is not known if the million dollars is over the expected 100 life span of the new bridge or not. But adding to the lameness of the cost of, and degree of difficulty of, changing lightbulbs comes the excuse that the lighting might have an effect on nearby residents and, more importantly scare the fish and possibly cause them to not navigate upstream to spawn. And this comes from a department that quotes $25 million to erect a flagpole on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The Minister for Regional Transport and Roads was contacted about the issue, first raised by the Bay Chamber of Commerce in April but the Minister has not bothered to provide a response. The community are invited to attend a free sausage sizzle this Saturday July 2nd between 10am and 2pm hosted by Transport NSW. Be sure to ask where the bridge feature lights are and why they were dropped.

Above: South Coast Pix captured the old Clyde River Bridge in all her art and glory. This image will be one of hundreds of the outstanding images in an upcoming coffee table book to be released by South Coast Pix that were captured to document the new bridge replacement project.

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