THE PARTIAL collapse of a bridge on Darkwood Rd over Christmas raised a few eyebrows, and will result in some serious questions presented to our masters in Hyde St.
Diehappy Bridge is an old high level narrow wooden bridge spanning Diehappy Creek midway along Darkwood Rd, a 24km council road travelling upstream from Waterfall Way along the Bellinger River.
Upstream, 98 residences are isolated apart from an alternative 22km four wheel drive dangerous Forestry track. There are two schools plus a preschool upstream from one of three bridges in a deplorable condition including Diehappy. That's 230 students plus preschool and high school students going to Bellingen.
Diehappy was allocated $350,000 to be replaced in 2011, the funds diverted to another project.
Following a comprehensive jointly funded examination of all wooden bridges in the shire in 2018 costing a staggering $389,000, Diehappy was one of the top three given priority to be replaced (Richardsons Bridge being another).
How ironic, based on council's own figures, is the bandaid maintenance on Diehappy since 2011 including the current patch up will probably equal the original estimate for a rebuild in 2011 - and still we have the same broken down old structure. A rebuild is now estimated at $450,000.
To avert a potential disaster as I could not contact council via all possible avenues, I contacted the SES. They rounded up someone who rushed up and closed the above. To their credit, once informed, council has always responded quickly to any emergency and following an inspection and discussion an engineer made a rare decision to allow very light traffic to use one side of the bridge until a patch up before school commences, hopefully.
An ambulance or any emergency vehicle exceeds the three-tonne limit.
Council's charter is to provide first and foremost essential services, not to apply for a farcical award and the latest to employ consultants to formulate a brand for the shire.
This latest venture into fairyland must surely be the final straw. Their latest acquisition of a resilience officer - that money could have paid for the rebuild of the above.