Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Drivers Warn of Road Risk; Traffic Turns Narrow Bridge into Danger Zone Claim Residents

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Drivers Warn of Road Risk; Traffic Turns Narrow Bridge into Danger Zone Claim Residents

Article excerpt

Byline: Shannon Newley newsroom@dailyexaminer.com.au

LOWER Clarence residents have slammed the bridge over Romiaka Channel as an accident waiting to happen, declaring it in desperate need of an upgrade.

Measuring 6.1m (20 feet) from kerb to kerb and 6.5m overall, the bridge was built in the 1930s when Yamba was home to just a few hundred people and the horse and buggy still mixed it with automobiles.

"It's the weakest link in our road connection now," long-time Yamba resident Cate Capp said.

"There is strong potential for a serious accident that could also isolate us as badly as any flood.

"Everyone in this valley gets cut off during flooding, but then there's extra government funding and other provisions to keep services flowing.

"If that bridge stops traffic on a normal day there is no financial aid and everything just grinds to a halt until the bridge can reopen."

Ms Capp said the Romiaka Channel bridge was only just wide enough for two cars to pass but heavy vehicles, including growing numbers of increasingly large motorhomes, caravans and trailer boats, raised the potential for a serious accident that could also paralyse Yamba.

She said the blind crest in the bridge also made dealing with oncoming vehicles difficult.

Clarence Valley Council staff said that because of the antiquated and unusual design of the bridge, widening it would be no easy matter and would call for specialist engineering.

A $44,000 block grant for the Romiaka Channel bridge widening appeared in the 2012/13 Clarence Valley Council Operational Plan but its absence in the 2013/14 plan appears to have been just an oversight.

"The council still has the funding to engage a consultant," a spokesman said.

"It's still on the council's to-do list and we'll try to get a brief out to a consultant in the New Year."

The spokesman said Council's focus remained on dealing with the effects of the January record flood on its 380km of regional roads.

Former Maclean Shire and Clarence Valley mayor Ian Tiley said that with a state election only 16 months away, now was the time to get a commitment from both sides of politics to make the bridge a bipartisan priority project. …

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