Adelong community swings behind iconic bridge repair

Most Adelong residents want the town’s historic swing bridge repaired and reopened to the public, according to a survey conducted by the Adelong Progress Association.  

The survey, which is being conducted with the assistance of council, is intended to gauge how important the bridge is to council, and it is available online and in hard copy form at Adelong Newsagency, Adelong Café and the Bendigo Bank.

The survey provided three choices; that the bridge be repaired and reopened at a potential cost of $120,000; closed to the public but retained as a historical feature, or demolition and removal.

According to the data available, 90 per cent of those who completed the survey opted for the first option, the remainder split evenly between the other two.

“The online survey is only a free version so we are only able to get data on 40 respondents but I think the community’s view is clear,” Adelong Progress Association president Fiona Matthews said.

“The online post has been viewed 4,791 times and is definitely one of the most popular posts we have had on the progress page for a while.”

Ms Matthews is urging those in Adelong who have not participated in the survey to do so as soon as possible.

“I will be collecting all the surveys on Saturday and then compiling them to send to council,” she said.

“The repair costs of $120,000 are worst case scenario and we wanted to use this figure so that the community made an informed decision.  

“Given there are two other footbridges in close vicinity we wanted to know if the bridge was important enough to the community to warrant the worst-case scenario. Clearly the survey is showing that the community want the bridge repaired and reopened at whatever cost.  This data will allow us to lobby government bodies and apply for grant funding. 

“We will be looking at local contractors to provide quotes on the repair so that when grant funding becomes available we are shovel ready so to speak. 

“Let’s save our beautiful iconic bridge.”

A structural assessment was undertaken by the council back in September 2019,  and it identified a number of deficiencies associated with the construction of the bridge and recommended that it should be closed to the public in the short term until the future of the structure was decided.

Those deficiencies included deformed cross beams, a balustrade rail deemed inadequate for public safety, and unsastisfactory decking planks that posed a safety risk.

Snowy Valleys Council does not have the money in its budget to repair or demolish the bridge, but the mayor and Adelong resident James Hayes would like to see it fixed and operating.

“It’s a symbol of Adelong,” he said. “There used to be dozens of them up and down the creek; lots and lots of swinging bridges.”

He would like to see the community raise the funds for the job, and believes they can.

“They have found lots of money for the showground, and I like to see these things community driven,” he said.

He said the problem is the bridge wasn’t built according to today’s specifications.

“There are ways around that though,” he said.

“They would have to change part of the bridge’s structure underneath and use alternative materials.”

He pointed to a recently constructed swing bridge in Derby, Tasmania as an example of what could be done.

“There are materials in that that we could incorporate into this one,” he said.