Bridge fall shocks residents

LIKE many in Mount Morgan, Heike Steinberger just had to see the wreckage for herself.

Cradling her baby daughter Victoria, she looked down on what’s left of the town’s historic swinging bridge, a crumpled mess of broken wood and rusting metal lying in the Dee River.

“It’s devastating, really sad,” she said.

“When I was at school it was part of the cross country route. When I got the call this morning I just had to see it because it’s such a shock.”

Word spread fast in Mount Morgan that the Tipperary Point Bridge had fallen down early yesterday morning.

Ironically it collapsed as council workmen fitted a “Keep Off” sign and stronger fencing to emphasise its fragile state. Although it’s been closed for about a year, there were reports people were still using it and the council wanted to reinforce the danger warning.

One of the rotting wooden piers snapped, in turn bringing down one of the wooden towers and causing the wooden walkway to tumble onto the rocks below.

Heike, whose family runs tours of the old mine and town’s attractions, said there would be an angry reaction if the bridge was not repaired and restored.

“I think there will be a big push for it. We know money will be a big factor but it’s the only remaining swinging bridge and it’s important.”

Before announcing that the council had concluded the only sensible course of action was demolition, Mayor Brad Carter said yesterday he was relieved no-one had been hurt and thankful no-one had been on the bridge when it gave way.

“In one way it’s probably a blessing in disguise. We knew it was dangerous but I didn’t appreciate just how poor a state it was in.”

Earlier in the day he promised that there would be a full appraisal of all the options and nothing would be ruled out until all the facts were known.

“We need to sit down with the community, look at the cost of reinstatement, how many people will benefit and what other projects might be curtailed to pay for it.

“Once all the cards are put on the table there will have to be a difficult decision made.”

He said the council would explore funding possibilities with the State and Federal governments and seek corporate sponsorship.

A resident who asked to be known only as “Ben” said only 12 hours earlier, at a council Community Catch-Up meeting in Mount Morgan, council representatives had reported it could cost up to $450,000 to restore it.

“As if by magic the next morning it falls down. I’m disgusted. There are 25 people on the other side of the river who rely on the bridge for access when the river floods.”

Member for Mirani Ted Malone said he would be seeking a full explanation from the council about what workmen were doing just before it fell.

“This is absolutely shocking and a serious failure of infrastructure that should have been cherished and protected. I had put my full support behind heritage listing and restoration of this historically important bridge and there are important questions to be asked about what caused it to collapse.”

Only last month Rockhampton Regional Council voted against adding the bridge to the Queensland Heritage Register on cost grounds, sparking a furious reaction from residents.

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