South West councils and Main Roads to foot bill of $1.5m bridge in Burekup servicing private property

Headshot of Sean Van Der Wielen
Sean Van Der WielenHarvey-Waroona Reporter
The Shires of Harvey and Dardanup, and Main Roads are set to spend $1.5m replacing the bridge on Collie River Road.
Camera IconThe Shires of Harvey and Dardanup, and Main Roads are set to spend $1.5m replacing the bridge on Collie River Road. Credit: Sean Van Der Wielen/Harvey-Waroona Reporter

A State Government agency and two South West local governments are set to spend a combined $1.5 million on a bridge over the Collie River which serves one private property, but one council says the investment is needed for bushfire safety.

The Shire of Harvey voted at a council meeting late last month to contribute $375,000 towards installation of a new bridge on Collie River Road in Roelands after two years of deliberations between it, Main Roads and the Shire of Dardanup over its future.

The Shire of Dardanup had already voted in late July to contribute $125,000 to the bridge replacement, bringing the total amount contributed by the two local governments to $500,000.

In his report to councillors at the time, Dardanup infrastructure services director Theo Naude said the current 55m, single lane wooden bridge was substantially more than 50 years old.

“The bridge is in a deteriorated state and currently temporarily propped until more substantial works can be programmed and arranged,” he said.

The Dardanup council voted in September 2021 to stop contributing to the maintenance of the bridge and instructed chief executive Andre Schonfeldt to engage with the Shire of Harvey about permanently closing the road over the Collie River and then potentially disposing of ownership of the closed road and bridge.

While the Shire of Harvey did not support Dardanup’s proposal to stop funding assistance, it did in principle support the road closure proposal.

In May, Main Roads conducted a structural assessment which warned of a “catastrophic failure” due to the conditions of two of the bridge’s piers.

The current bridge has been closed indefinitely as a result.

The Harvey council advised the Shire of Dardanup a replacement of the current bridge was needed before potential negotiations could occur about handing the road and bridge infrastructure over to the impacted landowner.

Main Roads has proposed a 45m long prefabricated, second bridge in its place, with abutments on either side to support it.

Harvey Shire president Paul Gillett and Dardanup Shire president Mick Bennett met with the landowner in late June about funding options for the project, which resulted in the landowner suggesting in-kind contributions including removing the current bridge and the construction of the abutments.

However, the offer was rejected due to WorkSafe requirements and the need for qualified personnel to undertake the work.

In his report to Shire of Harvey councillors, infrastructure services director Rick Lotznicker said the property owner had informed the council he would not provide a financial contribution towards the upgrade.

“Furthermore, the owner requested that the Shire fund and arrange for the existing ford (north of the existing bridge) across the Collie River be upgraded by the Shire to allow access while the bridge is being replaced,” he said.

The owner also requested the Harvey Shire obtain the approvals for the ford upgrade, which is expected to cost about $20,000.

“While it is disappointing that the property owner has not offered to contribute to the bridge replacement, it is considered that the proposal be supported as the alternative is to expend in the order of $3 million plus on a conventional bridge structure,” Mr Lotznicker said.

The bridge is currently being stored in Picton by Main Roads, having been purchased and transported to WA from the east coast. The costs of the project to MRWA currently stand at close to $1m.

The property the bridge provides access to is currently on the market for expressions of interest, being advertised as planned for an “international standard resort”, with three residents and an airstrip.

Mr Bennett said bushfire safety was a contributing factor in the council’s decision.

“Part of the reason of our contribution is to have a second escape route along Collie River Road,” he said.

“If there is fire at one end, we want residents to be able to escape it through the other end.”

Mr Gillett said the council was working constructively with the Shire of Dardanup and the landowner over the issue.

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