Residents of the Gundagai region and those further afield are reminded to have their say on ideas to memorialise the Prince Alfred Bridge with one week left before a community survey closes.
More than 40 responses have been received with the survey open until 31 October.
The timber road viaduct, once part of the Hume Highway, has been closed to traffic since 1984 and is set to be demolished in coming months.
The decision has gutted Gundagai locals who have fought for 40 years to have the historic structure maintained, restored and retained.
In May, an oversized truck hit the structure, forcing a section of the viaduct to be removed over O I Bell Drive.
Since this time, the ongoing wet weather in the area has significantly accelerated the deterioration of the bridge’s condition.
A recent engineering assessment showed major structural defects, raising concerns the structure would collapse even in a relatively minor flood event, posing significant risks to life and other infrastructure.
A working group including the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, Crown Lands, Transport for NSW, Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council, Gundagai Bridges Heritage Inc, the National Trust, Engineering Australia, and Office of Environment and Heritage was assigned to determine its fate.
The only upside to locals is the assurance from the Department of Water, Housing and Property that the separate Prince Alfred iron road bridge – still in operation across the Murrumbidgee River – and the nearby disused rail viaduct, will both remain in place.
In the meantime, the community is being asked to play an active role in the planning for a tribute to the timber viaduct by sharing their personal stories and ideas.
Ideas put forward so far have included retaining pier sections where possible, creating a viewing platform, displaying photos from different eras, and reusing timber to create community furniture, sculptures or even a miniature viaduct model.
Other creative suggestions include a walking track with picnic spots on the viaduct route, planting an avenue of native trees, and high-tech ideas like a virtual reality or QR-code history display, or even a 3D laser memorial to light up the night sky.
Community members who have not registered their views are being encouraged to provide their advice online in the next week.
Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said this was an opportunity for local people to play an active role in planning to memorialise the much-loved bridge.
“There is an opportunity to create a place for locals and visitors to congregate, that celebrates the bridge’s history and the valuable role it has played in the community,” Ms Cooke said.
Once the survey closes, all public input will be assessed and a report provided to the community on favoured options.
NSW Water, Property and Housing Minister Melinda Pavey said the NSW Government would consider all community feedback from the survey and prepare memorial options for the community’s consideration and endorsement.
“The community has expressed a desire for bridge material to be salvaged and reused and we are committed to doing that if possible,” Mrs Pavey said.
“If viaduct piers are in suitable condition for short sections to be safely retained, we will also do that to honour the bridge’s memory.”
The planned removal of the disused timber viaduct has been flagged for November, with the work likely to be completed by December.