NEW FUNDING: Fallen bridge to be fixed

FUNDED AT LAST: The Percy Hindmarsh Bridge near Monto has received a funding boost for upgrades.
FUNDED AT LAST: The Percy Hindmarsh Bridge near Monto has received a funding boost for upgrades. Jack Lawrie

AS THE rivers continue to rise in the deluge across the North Burnett, funding to replace one of Monto's fallen bridges could not have come at a better time.

Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment Curtis Pitt Minister for Local Government along with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Mark Furner announced in a joint statement that $584,647 in State Government funding would go towards the replacement of the Percy Hindmarsh bridge, as part of the $60 million Local Government Grants and Subsidies Program.

"The Palaszczuk Government knows the value of investing in regional communities through new job-creating infrastructure projects,” Mr Pitt said.

"That's why in this year's State Budget I outlined a $42.75billion four-year capital works program with $10.2billion earmarked for 2017-18 and half of that being spent on regional projects.”

The Percy Hindmarsh bridge was destroyed in April during the downpour caused by Cyclone Debbie.

It played a vital role in the regions beef cattle infrastructure network, with the destruction forcing detours of up to an extra hour prior to the construction of a temporary crossing by North Burnett Regional Council.

Without it, producers and families living in the area struggled to access crucial agricultural supply chains, and essential services in Monto.

The nearest accessible service centre was in Eidsvold, 100km away, whereas before they could access the ones in Monto and Biloela.

Local Government Minister Mark Furner said the way local councils applied for LGGSP grants had changed due to taking on feedback from the councils themselves.

"It has also enabled councils to plan their workforces ahead of time, to create local jobs and give the local economy a shot in the arm,” Mr Furner said.

This additional funding will add to the already committed Federal funding of $974,413 which was announced in September under Round Three of the Commonwealth Bridges Renewal Programme.

Since the bridge was destroyed, North Burnett Regional Council have pushed for the new bridge be an upgrade over the previous one.

North Burnett mayor Rachel Chambers said the proposed replacement, estimated at two million dollars, will be more suitable for heavy vehicles and B-doubles.

"The proposed structure...will incorporate a new, wider concrete bridge to increased standards and traffic loading, and will include realignment of road approaches for improved and safer access,” Cr Chambers said.

"This announcement is opportune considering the weather conditions currently and the inability to cross the temporary crossing which we put in after Debbie destroyed the previous bridge.”

According to Rawbelle residents, the temporary crossing that had been erected while waiting on a birdge replacement was little more than a stone slab with a layer of gravel.

Though this was a serviceable replacement, it could not stand up to another round of flooding, as has been the case this week.

Topics:  curtis pitt local government grants and subsidies program mark furner monto north burnett regional council percy hindmarsh bridge rachel chambers rawbelle

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