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Bega Council Stays Committed to Demolish Cuttagee Bridge

Bermagui Community Forum advise:

Council Stays Committed to Demolish Cuttagee Bridge and Replace it with a Concrete Two Lane Structure Council met yesterday to vote on the future of Cuttagee Bridge. Four community members presented to Council prior to the meeting in support of the retention of the bridge, delivering messages about the importance of heritage tourism, non compliance with the Fixing Country Bridges grant criteria, failure to consult with the community and making the decision to demolish the heritage bridge without investigating all of the issues. The community message to the Council is supported by a petition to save the Cuttagee Bridge signed by more than 10,000 people. Council refused to reverse their previous decision to demolish the heritage bridge and replace it with a new two lane concrete structure. During the Council meeting, several references were made back to points and suggestions raised by the speakers from the community. Council are concerned about the on-going financing of bridge repairs, which Anthony McMahon, chief engineer, noted to be about $250k in the next few years. Instead they have come up with some alternative possible ways forward:- 1. Handover responsibility for the Tathra Bermagui Road, including all bridge maintenance, to the State Government. This has worked successfully to date with the Wallaga Lake Bridge. The downside here is that there could be less community influence should the State Government decide to modernise all the wooden bridges. 2. Request the term of the Transport for NSW funding be extended from 2 years to at least 4 years. During this time Council will address all the necessary community consultation, heritage and environmental requirements. Even with this extended timeline, the Council proposal is to demolish the current heritage bridge and replace it with a new two lane concrete bridge. The additional time will also provide Council an opportunity to seek the additional $4 million funding required to cover the shortfall with the current Transport for NSW funding, based on the estimated bridge cost. Community members have organised a poster and postcard campaign over the next week to raise the profile of this issue within the community. They are requesting that everyone responds to this proposal by contacting Council, through the use of a pre-addressed postcard. These will be available throughout the town - they have the image above on the front. At present, it is difficult to see that the community is willing to accept anything beyond the retention of the heritage timber bridge, potentially repaired with concrete piers. The Council media release from 1 April tries to strike a more respectful tone towards community views: “We’re committed to working with the community to ensure we can reflect the heritage and tourism values in any new structure.” However, the current funding is based on a new two lane concrete bridge. It is likely a community meeting will occur in the next few weeks, at which Council will explain their reasons for wanting to replace the Cuttagee Bridge and community members can express their views. The Bermagui Community Forum will continue to advise the community of the progress of this issue. Please continue to put your views on this issue to the Mayor, Russell Fitzpatrick and Council at council@begavalley.nsw.gov.au and to Andrew Constance MP at bega@parliament.nsw.gov.au and copy bermaguiforum@gmail.com


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