Nationals Member for Euroa Annabelle Cleeland has met with local community groups in Nagambie to discuss their concerns over the structural security, safety, and accessibility of Chinaman’s Bridge.
While speaking to concerned community members about the dilapidated bridge, Ms Cleeland was joined by Member for South-West Coast Roma Britnell, who holds Shadow Minister positions for Ports and Freight, and Boating and Fishing.
“Speaking with these fiercely determined community groups was extremely informative,” Ms Cleeland said.
“It was fantastic to have Roma Britnell with us, someone that has extensive expertise in these matters and continues to help advocate for regional communities.”
The bridge has been subject to considerable attention in the Nagambie and Avenel region, with organisations like Go Nagambie representing the interests of business and community members in the area.
“Local groups have continued to campaign for progress on the bridge, putting forward reports, assessments and practical solutions to the relevant Ministers but have unfortunately not gotten the response they need,” Ms Cleeland said.
The key concerns with the bridge related to its structural condition and the safety risk it poses to the community, as well as the accessibility of the area for local businesses, sporting organisations and visitors.
“The issues with the bridge are obvious, it simply is no longer viable to remain in the condition it is in,” Ms Cleeland said.
“Safety risks and accessibility issues are having a significant economic impact with the safety risk potentially impacting tourism and sporting events in the region so the government must treat this matter with the urgency it requires.”
The bridge suffered significant damage following recent floods and there is currently an exclusion zone in place on either side of the bridge, preventing river traffic from passing through the section of the river.
This has had a significant economic impact on the Nagambie community, with accessible waterways being essential to several local businesses and tourism providers.
Ms Cleeland said an engineer’s report commissioned by the local council has found the bridge to be “at risk of imminent collapse”, encouraging the community groups to advocate for remedial action.
She said uncertainty regarding the ownership and responsibility for the bridge has resulted in a lack of action, with the bridge’s structural integrity continuing to decline as time passes.
Ms Cleeland has said she will continue to advocate for the community groups in the region, and plans to fight for progress as Parliament prepares to sit again.
“I will use my platform to push this issue and make sure it is treated the urgent matter it is,” Ms Cleeland said.
The visit to Chinamen’s bridge was part of a regional tour with Ms Britnell which identified river sand lake safety management issues which have been exacerbated by recent flood events.