Low Level Bridge replacement debate sends council back to the drawing board

The three options council voted to conduct further investigations into.
The three options council voted to conduct further investigations into.

Cowra Council will go back to the drawing board following a lengthy debate on the findings of a study into a suitable spot for the Low Level Bridge replacement.

After receiving advice from Transport for NSW (TfNSW), Director of Infrastructure and Operations, Dirk Wymer recommended council formally adopt Option 4a, which would see the replacement bridge situated to the south of the current bridge.

However Councillor Bruce Miller moved an alternative motion, saying council should "continue to pursue Options 2, 2a and 2b with RMS and the government".

"Personally I think that Option 4, for the moving of some of the traffic out of Kendal Street, is worst option we could have looked at," he said.

"I am really concerned that we would settle for something that doesn't solve our problems, just moves the problem of the congestion... just a little bit further down the road.

"Certainly as far as Vaux St is concerned, it would be an absolute nightmare going forward.

"If we adopt Option 4 and proceed with that now, a dog's breakfast in the middle of our town that we are trying to eliminate, [it will] just continue to be bestowed on our future ratepayers for the next 50 or 60 years."

Cr Ray Walsh echoed Cr Miller's sentiments, believing Option 4a presented economic and safety issues.

"I can see some people would favour 4a but when you look at the cost of it, in actual fact, I'm not sure we're getting value for money there," he said.

"When I look at how the town might be in 15 or 20 years, I think it would be a great mistake to go without further consideration of the other options... we've simply got to get this right."

Councillor Michael Nobes, who ran a poll on the issue via social media, said 80 per cent of respondents voted for Option 4a and believed council should press ahead with director's recommendation.

"This has been three years in the making, we've thrown money at this hand over fist, we're not taking any notice of the reports... we're not even listening to our community," he said.

Cr Peter Wright also spoke for the original recommendation, noting concerns raised by TfNSW about the the curvature of the replacement bridge in Options 2, 2a and 2b and believed council should be putting the heavy vehicle bypass in place.

"I don't think the money that's been allocated there is going to build a road with enough integrity to be accepted by the RMS as part of the highway structure in the future," he said.

"I'm more comfortable with 4a then the twos, I just can't see how they are going to work and how we are going to build them strong enough from scratch and still remain at that budget."

Cr Miller's motion also had the support of councillors Ruth Fagan and Judi Smith, with the former saying she would be "dumbstruck" if council went ahead with 4a.

"I'm really passionate about the fact that I think 4A is in the wrong spot," Cr Fagan said.

Cr Bill West also spoke for Cr Miller's motion, noting council did not need to rush into any decisions following maintenance work on the Low Level Bridge.

"In my mind, this is about long term planning," he said.

"The Low Level Bridge, as it currently stands, we believe the integrity is solid, therefore we don't have to have this done yesterday, hopefully, and we have time to get it right.

"[Option 4a] doesn't address any issues about getting on or off the end of where that bridge will be, there is no provision made for going under the bridge, so any traffic or heavy vehicles will have to use it will be coming across the foot of the traffic bridge in Lachlan Street and it will still have the same congestion issues.

"I think we are better to be holding our breath and going down the path of the two options and actually trying to resolve what is a long term solution for traffic movements in this shire."