THE Goulburn Heritage Group wants to see the historic Lansdowne Bridge retained.
But if that’s not possible, the next best thing is re-using its native hardwood timber in other initiatives around town.
The city could take its lead from Kangaroo Valley where rehabilitated timber from the 1893 Hampden Bridge restoration was used in six street benches in the village’s main street.
A community group worked with the then Roads and Traffic Authority to construct the street furniture. Each seat has a plaque, detailing the timber’s origins. Leftover timber was sold commercially.
Shoalhaven City Council also donated funds to the project.
The initiative complemented a historic walk project designed to entice people to “stay longer, walk and explore” Kangaroo Valley, estimated to inject an extra $50,000 annually into local tourism.
Goulburn Mulwaree Mayor Geoff Kettle said if an opportunity arose for re-use of timber from the 1902 De Burgh truss bridge, Council would certainly consider it.
Late last year, the Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) embarked on public consultation about plans to remove and replace the bridge with a reinforced concrete structure. But the move came months after Council had endorsed its demolition due to safety concerns and the state government announced funding for a replacement.
Heritage Group member John Proctor said the group would lodge a submission before the January 31 closing date.
“We would like to see the bridge retained because it is part of Goulburn’s history and it has significant links to our early days,” he said.
“We also want to see a management plan for its upkeep but that is the stumbling block because the RMS and Council are washing their hands of it; neither wants the expense of maintaining it.”
Speaking from a personal standpoint Mr Proctor said if the bridge was demolished, he’d like to see the timber made available to local historical groups and similar organisations.
The Goulburn Loco Roundhouse Preservation Society, of which Mr Proctor is also a member, has also discussed the matter.
It will propose in a submission to the RMS that the wood be used in roof trusses, window frames and to replace deteriorating timber in its Wellington shed.
“Seating (around the city) is an obvious way it could be made available for community use but it would be a shame if reasonable sized timber was milled down to much smaller pieces,” Mr Proctor said.
The former Department of Main Roads engineer said some girders underneath the bridge had holes, indicating internal decay.
“Retention is our preferred option but we have to be realistic,” Mr Proctor told the Post.
“If there is no money for maintenance in the future, it will be hard to keep it as a pedestrian bridge because it has to be safe.”
Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) invites feedback on the proposal to remove and replace the existing Lansdowne Bridge in Goulburn by Thursday 31 January 2013.
An RMS spokeswoman said submissions to date had favoured replacement of the current bridge with a new structure.
“Submissions have expressed support for improving safety for all motorists including those travelling to Nowra and the south coast with trailers and boats,” she said.
“The community will also have the opportunity to comment on the project during the display of the environmental assessment scheduled for public display in 2013. All feedback will be considered before the new bridge design is finalised.”
On timber re-use, she said the RMS was considering methods to reuse suitable elements from the bridge such as maintaining other timber bridges in the area.
“RMS welcomes ideas from the community on other potential uses for the timber through the submissions process,” the spokeswoman said.
Submissions can be emailed to email@example.com ov.au, or posted to Peter Townsend, RMS Regional Office, PO Box 477, Wollongong NSW 2520 or by telephone to (02) 4221 2506.
Work on the replacement is expected to start mid this year.