Council will contact State Government representatives to advocate for the removal of the McLennan Street viaduct rail bridge, to address safety concerns for local heavy transport operators.
Wednesday’s Council meeting resolved to write to the Member for Northern Tablelands, Adam Marshall, and the NSW Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Andrew Constance, seeking the bridge’s removal to reduce the safety risk for high vehicles travelling under the viaduct.
“The viaduct has been constructed so the rail bridge can easily come off and back on again in one piece,” Armidale Regional Council Mayor Simon Murray said.
“For that reason, its removal at this stage is a logical solution to the safety concerns of trucking operators while that rail line is not being used for trains or any other purpose.”
Councillor Murray emphasised removing and storing the rail bridge would not be an impediment to a return of train services or any other use of the rail corridor.
“If train services ever became viable again, the bridge could be easily reinstalled,” he said.
“In the meantime, removing and storing the bridge not only immediately addresses the safety issues but offers a low-cost solution to the issue of trucks hitting the structure.”
Reports of vehicles ‘getting stuck under the viaduct’ date back to 2003 and the issue resurfaced when another high vehicle hit the structure last month.
It prompted local businesses to start a petition calling for the viaduct to be removed, claiming the structure is a safety risk and an inconvenience to operators of heavy vehicles.
Community members lobbying for the return of train on the line have expressed concern that removing the viaduct could obstruct the reintroduction of services north of Armidale.
“The solution we are advocating accommodates the concerns of both parties,” Cr Murray said.
“It’s important to note the option to just remove and store the rail bridge does not create any additional impediment to bringing trains back to our lines.”
Wednesday’s meeting was told legislation prevented Transport for NSW from closing a railway line, unless authorised by an Act of Parliament. However, the department could remove pieces of infrastructure if the condition of assets raised safety concerns.
Published on 27 Jul 2018