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Article: Safety tests may hold-up bridge
« on: June 03, 2009, 09:49:09 AM »
From the Queensland Times click here!

Safety tests may hold-up bridge

Quote
Safety tests may hold-up bridge

Peter Foley | 3rd June 2009

MISSING LINK: The site of the planned Riverlink pedestrian bridge with the bridge's frame in the foreground.
Queensland Times

THERE are fears the much-delayed Riverlink footbridge may never be built because it could threaten the safety of the Bremer River rail bridge.

Transport Minister and Ipswich MP Rachel Nolan has ordered engineers to carry out a structural survey of the rail bridge to determine if it could carry the extra weight of the controversial walkway.

The footbridge was initially planned to open in 2007 but has become bogged down amid wrangling among the State Government, QR and Riverlink developer Leda.

Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale said he was exasperated that safety issues were only being raised now - with the bridge's frame already built and on site.

?It is absolutely frustrating,? Cr Pisasale said yesterday.

?One of the conditions of Riverlink was that the bridge had to be built before the shopping centre opened.

?I've been working for two years to get it finished. The bridge has finally been built, it's been delivered, it's sitting ready to be put in place - and now all this happens.

?There is a conflict between QR and Leda and the people of Ipswich are suffering. All I'm asking for is commonsense. We're all adults, stop acting like children.?

However, Cr Pisasale stressed he didn't want the bridge built ?without it being 100 per cent safe?.

Ms Nolan said she ordered a rigorous independent structural assessment of the Bremer River bridge after QR engineers recently undertook an inspection of the historic link.

She said the assessment would include core-testing of the bridge's cast-iron pilings to determine if it could withstand the stresses placed on it from having the new footbridge attached.

Engineering specialists SMEC would start work straight away to assess the Bremer River rail bridge and the process was expected to take eight weeks, she said. Construction of the bridge would then take about four months.

?We cannot gamble with safety nor with a 116-year-old piece of Ipswich's railway history,? Ms Nolan said.

Further complicating the issue, she said she was advised by QR that it had not yet received a complete set of plans from Leda and ?had been unable to decipher aspects of the plans submitted so far?.

?Due to the uncertainty regarding the plans it is difficult to determine the stress the Riverlink bridge would place on the older structure,? Ms Nolan said.

?We've waited two years for the developers to get their act together and on behalf of the people of Ipswich we are not prepared to wait any longer.?

Asked if she thought the bridge would have to be rebuilt, Ms Nolan said: ?My gut feeling is it won't come to that.?

The manager of Aspire apartments, Steve Beer, said it was frustrating to be ?so near yet so far? from Riverlink.

?If the bridge was there, it would be a short walk from here to Riverlink for people who stay here,? Mr Beer said.

?As it is, they have to walk into town and then across a fairly dangerous bridge.

?When we first opened, the council told us the bridge was just about to be built. Sixteen months later we still have nothing.

?It will be a benefit to us; it will be a benefit to our guests. It's just a matter of when and how long. And if maybe.?

Leda chief executive Bob Ell could not be contacted for comment yesterday.
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