A community advisory group will give advice on the future of the Far South Coast’s much-loved Cuttagee Bridge, although council still says the heritage icon is nearing the end of its life.
The Cuttagee Bridge Community Advisory Group, comprised of eight people, held its first meeting at the start of November.
It will represent the community and provide advice to Bega Valley Shire Council on how to capture the heritage aspects of the bridge in any future construction or restoration project at the site.
Earlier this year, the NSW Government’s Fixing Country Bridges Program announced it would provide $16.8 million to replace a number of the Bega Valley’s ageing timber bridges – including $7.5 million for Cuttagee Bridge.
BVSC resolved to replace Cuttagee Bridge with a two-lane concrete alternative, but the move was met with community uproar.
Later, council announced it would continue to plan for an upgrade to the bridge while also investigating alternatives to the current proposal in response to community feedback.
But the bridge’s condition is serious. It has previously been described by councillors as being “in serious disrepair” and “failing”.
“Cuttagee Bridge is nearing the end of its functional life and is already subject to weight restrictions due to the deteriorating condition of its ageing timbers,” council’s acting director of assets and operations Ian Macfarlane said.
“In making any plans about the bridge’s future, be that repair, restoration or replacement, we need to weigh up a wide range of complex factors including cost, potential funding opportunities, risk and safety, durability, heritage and tourism values, and environmental issues – all of which are complex issues with significant community interest.
“The role of the community advisory group is to help us, on behalf of the community, consider these complex and often competing priorities and provide advice to council that assists in determining the best way forward for this key asset.”
Mr Macfarlane said the advisory group’s first task is to review the studies and reports council has already commissioned and provide input into what it considers to be the best way forward.
The group’s recommendations will then be presented to council next year, along with technical reports, independent expert advice and other relevant material.
Council has already received a number of technical reports and surveys regarding the bridge and a structural assessment report is due later in November.
More information is available on the Cuttagee Bridge renewal project page.