Doomed bridge not unique enough

JUST months after the state government announced Lansdowne Bridge would be demolished another local structure has been placed on the hit list.

Thornes Bridge over Braidwood Rd would be bulldozed in coming months, Goulburn MP Pru Goward announced on Monday.

The 1920 Allan Truss bridge was one of 105 built in NSW to a design by Percy Allan, based on the American Howe truss, according to the Roads and Maritime Service (RMS). Only 20 remain in use across the state, 10 of which are listed on the NSW Heritage Register.

Thornes Bridge is not one of them. Since construction of a new 125-metre long concrete bridge in 2004 the structure has been left to languish. The council did not want to demolish it at the time, instead intending to keep it as a pedestrian way for posterity.

But now the crunch has come.

The Council has poured few, if any funds into its ongoing conservation.

“The original Thornes Bridge is in poor condition and is considered a risk to public safety due to its deteriorating condition,” Ms Goward said.

“… (Its) retention is considered unviable. Neither RMS nor the local council are in a position to carry out the regular and expensive maintenance which would be needed.”

She said heritage concerns were addressed in the RMS’s recent strategy for sustainable conservation of heritage timber truss bridges. This process was open for public comment.

Mayor Geoff Kettle did not know yesterday whether Goulburn Mulwaree lodged a submission touching on Thornes Bridge.

However the council has lobbied the state government to replace Lansdowne Bridge with a new concrete structure.

The strategy found that Thornes Bridge “did not have any unique characteristics that are not represented elsewhere among retained bridges.”

“As a result, it cannot be retained in use within the RTA’s timber truss bridge portfolio,” the document stated.

“If required to be retained as a redundant structure it would attract minimum resources to support due diligence requirements and its existing fabric would be retained.”

The strategy proposed future conservation work such as archival recording, interpretation, salvage of timbers for use in other bridge rehabilitation works.

Nine other Allan Truss structures remain operable, including the 1912 Rossi Bridge on Range Rd. The RMS has poured millions of dollars into Rossi’s conservation in recent years.

Goulburn Heritage Group member John Proctor, a former RTA engineer, said it was a shame Thornes Bridge had been left for 10 years.

“It’s been left to deteriorate to the point of it not being viable to keep,” he said.

“It’s demolition by neglect.”

But the community couldn’t necessarily keep everything and one had to be pragmatic. He believed Rossi Bridge was a far better example of the Allan Truss type.

Like the Lansdowne Bridge decision he said consultation could have been better. The RMS only invited comment on Lansdowne’s demolition after it had announced its replacement.

Mr Proctor said if given the chance, his group would have lodged a submission about Thornes Bridge. At the same time, he did not want to see an unsafe structure that was a danger to the public and people downstream in times of flood.

“(But) I’d like to see more thought put into the re-use of timbers rather than just have them thrown out,” he said.

Work to remove the bridge is expected to start in March and will take about four months to complete, weather permitting.

Cr Kettle said the decision would certainly save some resources

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