Concerned locals meet with Council over Diggers Bridge raintrees

MOWBRAY

Mark Murray

Journalist

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The raintrees at Diggers Bridge in the Mowbray Valley. IMAGE: Supplied.

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RESIDENTS concerned about the destruction of raintrees as part of a new Diggers Bridge upgrade have met with Douglas Shire Council.

Members of the Save Diggers Bridge and The Raintrees group, Mowbray Valley locals and Council staff met on site at the proposed $2.6 million project on Friday, followed by a two hour meeting yesterday.

The meeting revealed cane farmers, the quarry and the Flames of the Forest restaurant would benefit from a dual carriageway at Diggers Bridge and an improved load limit.

Some of the raintrees would need to make way to build a new two-lane bridge.

Despite their protests, a Save the Diggers Bridge spokesperson praised Council for ‘giving us a voice’, saying the meetings raised awareness of ‘the importance of a more thorough community consultation process in order to make sound decisions on behalf of their community and ratepayers.’

The project was announced late last year with construction originally expected to commence this month.

A Council spokesperson said engineers had ensured any removal of raintrees would be ‘kept to the minimum required to make way for the new structure’, which will be partially funded by the Federal Government ($1.3 million).

More than 1100 signatures have been gathered by the Mowbray Valley Community Network to save the five ‘iconic’ trees and for the current Diggers Bridge to be retained.

Council hopes to use the current structure for access while a new bridge is built, however it will need to pass a safety inspection in June or risk being closed indefinitely.

It also emerged Council would hold talks with the Federal Government about an extension for funding to explore further options.

Council announced in November 2017 it would pour $1.3 million into the project for a concrete box culvert structure to replace the current bridge, saying it would increase the current load-limit, the number of lanes, boost safety and significantly extend the operational life.

Mayor Julia Leu said at the time the current bridge was very old and becoming unsafe.

“It will bring enhanced social and economic benefits to the region,” she said of the upgrade.

Council is expected to give an update on plans in the coming weeks.


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