Is the George Street low level bridge a novelty or a vital piece of transport infrastructure in a modern, growingcity?
And would the cost of its replacement be justified to avoid the inconvenience of having to travel the long way through Kelso, rather than the most direct way down Hereford Street, for those in the Trinity Heights and Laffing Waters areas who want to access the CBD?
It’s a fair bet these questions will be given another airing after the low level bridge went under for the third time in just two months during the Central Tablelands’ wet winter.
Councillor Michael Coote’s call to investigate options for replacing and raising the bridge, made at a council meeting in Augustafter the bridge went under for the second time this winter, was simple enough.
“As a councilwe need to look at what we’relooking for in the future andwhat kind of infrastructurewe will need,” he said at the time.
He also said Hereford Street and Eglinton Road needed to be widened to two lanes in both directions to support the city’s growing population.
His point about the low level bridge was sound: the booming population in the Trinity Heights and Laffing Waters areas shouldn’t have their most direct route to the CBD cut off every time the region gets a lot of rain.
If council wants to continue to allow homes to be built in those areas –and there don’t seem to be any signs of any slowing in construction –then it should also ensure the residents inthose homes can access the central part of the city without difficulty.
But, as with any project, it’s the implementation that proves difficult.
Who will pay for a new bridge over the Macquarie River in lower George Street? How far should the bridge extend? And would the exercise be redundant if –as some pointed out in the days after Cr Coote’s call was reported –Hereford Street itself went under during a major flood?
The work on the upgrade of the Great Western Highway at Kelso is also a reminder of the limits of residents’ tolerance for major road construction projects.
It doesn’t take long for an upgradeto become an annoyance for those who have to navigate their way through the worksevery day.
It seems Bathurst is stuck with the low level bridge for the moment.
But talk of its replacement is unlikely to go away any time soon.
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