Town laments a bridge too far

Credit: Map data © 2024 Google Maps

By Lucy Waldron

From an outsider’s perspective, the biggest issue for a small town that relies on tourism would be the closing of popular tourist infrastructure, however, if you ask any of the town’s residents you will get a very different answer.

Wallangarra residents are up in arms about the town’s key bridge, Bridge Link Drive, still closed due to damage from the November fires.

This closure means the town is divided and a detour is required in order to get from one side to the other.

An employee from the Wallangarra General Store, Cass Kimmins said the town is segregated and the kids do not have a safe route to school or an area to play that is not dirt roads.

“While it may be mildly inconvenient to the residents, it is also really dangerous because emergency services have to take the detour to get around,” Cass said.

The detour also affects the Wallangarra Army base, Northern Logistic Group – Wallangarra, as the delivery trucks are getting lost on their way to the facility.

“It is impacting everyone, while there are detour signs, people are still losing their way,” Cass said.

“Every day we have residents in the store complaining that the bridge is still closed and the danger it is creating.”

The Queensland Rail said the Bridge Link Drive overbridge has been closed to the public to ensure the safety of the community and surrounding rail infrastructure.

“Queensland Rail has completed aerial and ground inspections of the bridge, and materials to repair the bridge are expected to arrive in late February,” a statement by Queensland Rail said.

“Repair works are planned to commence in early March and be completed by the end of April.”

The bordering town held their breaths as flames lapped at their livelihoods late last year, but it is the aftermath that has done the most damage to the town.

A town of around 360 people may not be a priority for Transport of Main Roads and Queensland Rail, but overgrown train tracks and broken bridges, which have led to bolted-shut venues, highlight why this is an issue.

Helen Bulter, an organiser of the Border Markets, said their main problem is right in the centre of town and no one knows when it will be finished.

“We don’t know what is damaged, if anything and when the main access from one side of town to the other will be open again,” Helen said.

Cass said Wallangarra General Store are getting fewer customers because of the inconvenience from the bridge.

The residents have spoken and while one may think the train tracks are the town’s main concern, it is in fact the broken bridge and the inconvenience, segregation and danger it creates.

UPDATE: The Queensland Rail has started construction on the bridge and are on track for completion at the end of April. The footpath has also been repaired to ensure safe travel for children and pedestrians.