NOT HAPPY: Ray Kelly is opposed to the proposed removal of this connection, saying it needs a cheaper replacement.
NOT HAPPY: Ray Kelly is opposed to the proposed removal of this connection, saying it needs a cheaper replacement. Peter Gardiner

A bridge loss too far for riled Ray as vote looms

A FORMER Noosa councillor and mayoral candidate is contemplating rallying locals to build their own pedestrian bridge, if the council decides to remove a rickety and closed Gumtree Dr connection outside Cooroy.

Ray Kelly, who lives near the bridge, is incensed that none of the local residents were consulted before the completion of a staff report that recommends removal of the bridge.

The thoroughfare was constructed in the 1950s originally as a vehicle bridge but, due to deterioration and changes in vehicle access to Cooroy-Noosa Rd, was closed to motor traffic in 2005.

Council asset planning manager Bryan O'Connor said in 2013, storm and flood damage rendered the bridge unsafe, so it was closed to pedestrians in 2014 by the council.

"The bridge has remained closed to the public and all access is restricted by means of a security fence,” he said.

He rates the structure as "a low-use facility” used to serve local pedestrians, including residents of about 50 rural residential properties, and has advised against a "do nothing” option.

Constructing a new pedestrian bridge with ongoing maintenance costs included could cost more than $400,000 (life expectancy 40 years), while replacing it with the old Mary River Rd pedestrian bridge and maintenance would still cost ratepayers more than $230,000 (life expectancy 20 years).

A budget allocation of more than $48,000 is required for the bridge removal and creek bank rehabilitation.

"A new replacement pedestrian bridge was considered an excessive alternative and the whole-of- life costs were considered well beyond the overall community benefit,” Mr O'Connor said.

Mr Kelly is outraged by this approach and believes the locals can do much better.

"It's got to the stage where a couple of engineers up the road said 'well look, we'll build it ourselves',” Mr Kelly said.

"We're not looking for a Taj Mahal, the option is you do a span bridge. We think we can get bridge spans from Brisbane.

"A lot of Swift Dr people used it as well. We had good, safe walking for our grandchildren and children.'

Mr Kelly said the old road was the original Cobb & Co trail "so the heritage value is immense”.

"We need to go back to local area (councillor division) representation - there's no two ways about that,” he said.

Mr Kelly may have a bridge replacement ally in Cr Joe Jurisevic, who this week in council suggested something like an aluminium square-tubed framed bridge with a recycled plastic walkway would have minimal maintenance with a long life.

He questioned the quoted cost of maintenance.

Mr O'Connor said the council had always looked for something to fit in with the "look and feel of Noosa” and timber was a preferred product so a replacement bridge would at least have wooden decking.

The matter will come before a full council committee debate on Monday before the final vote is taken next Thursday.

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