Upper Lachlan Shire drivers warn of weakened transport links

In two weeks, temporary load limits will come into effect on several Upper Lachlan timber bridges, but the council has refused to tell the Gazette which ones.

Road users want to know, as undermined transport links risk injury to transporters, motorists and passengers, isolate a village, and cut off producers.

School bus operator Kip Skelly wants to know which bridges will have new load limits, affecting his weekday route. Photo, Clare McCabe

School bus operator Kip Skelly wants to know which bridges will have new load limits, affecting his weekday route. Photo, Clare McCabe

In May, a commissioned report revealed nine bridges in the Shire required immediate maintenance, including two timber ones leading in and out of Bigga.

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ULSC's acting general manager Andrew Croke said the load limits were a safety precaution and that the state government's assistance would be sought.

A split in the support beams of the circa-1910 bridge over Kangaroo Creek on Bigga Road required immediate structural repair, the May report said.

The circa-1966 bridge out of Bigga over Coates Creek on Reids Flat Road had rotting, loss of deck bolts and surface breakdown, the report further said.

School bus operator Kip Skelly uses the route over the Kangaroo Creek bridge to pick up students in Bigga in a 19-tonne bus.

A reduced load limit means Mr Skelly will need to seek Transport NSW's approval to use a smaller bus as a shuttle over the bridge to the larger bus.

The state department's approval is not guaranteed, he said.

"This school bus run is probably the easiest fixed thing of the lot," Mr Skelly said.

"The Kangaroo Creek and Coates Creek bridges have the potential to shut down a large area of the northern part of the Shire.

We should have had a town meeting. Everything I hear is second-hand.

Livestock operator Andrew Thorn on unknown load limits

"They've got no idea of the remoteness of the places in the Shire ... they've got no idea."

Further along Reids Flat Road over the Lachlan River, the council has imposed a revised load limit of 10 tonne (single axle), 13 tonne (tandem axle), and 14 tonne (tri axle).

Livestock operator Andrew Thorn said his fully loaded B-double would weigh about 50 tonne, while a semi-trailer would weigh up to 44 tonne.

Load limits on Boorowa Road over Wheeo and Old Man Gunyah creeks have been further reduced from 26 tonne to 7 tonne (single axle), 8 tonne (tandem axle) and 11 tonne (tri axle).

Neither end of the B-double route between Crookwell and Boorowa is signposted to halt trucks at the entrance, according to livestock operators.

It means that operators are having to bypass Boorowa Road and add an extra 100 kilometres onto their journey and about $600 onto a producer's bill.

"We should have had a town meeting," Mr Thorn said.

"Everything I hear is second-hand."

As of Tuesday, July 9, both the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) and National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) had the road listed on their portals as open.

The council said the RMS, the NHVR, the Livestock, Bulk and Rural Carriers Association, emergency services and Mr Skelly had been notified of the revised limits, and other stakeholders would be advised soon.

But councillor Brian McCormack OAM, speaking as a private citizen, said it was "a very, very serious situation for rural people living on these roads that have weight-limited business."

He said the expected impact would primarily be "their livelihood".

Livestock trucks would be unable to use these routes to transport livestock, wool, or fodder; fuel deliveries and emergency services vehicle access couldn't be guaranteed; and school buses wouldn't be able to access the Bigga route.

"People ordering super phosphate to be spread in early spring are not going to know if they can get that delivered," Cr McCormack said.

"Plus all your stock feed for keeping livestock alive, plus all your livestock to markets and abattoirs ... We need to make a start on these bridges."

The council maintains a network of 1178 kilometres of roads and bridges. Its infrastructure backlog is $1.08 million, or less than 0.49 per cent, well within the sector benchmark of less than 2 percent.

This list of timber bridge load limits on ULSC's website has since been removed.

This list of timber bridge load limits on ULSC's website has since been removed.

The pictured list contains information that was uploaded to on ULSC's website, but has since been removed. The council would not confirm if this list was the final copy of the timber bridges affected.

"As we are yet to receive the signs from the manufacturer, the information has been temporarily removed," a council spokesperson said. "The information will be reinstated after the load limit signs are installed.

"The estimated time frame for commencement of the temporary load limits on affected timber bridges is two weeks.

"The council reiterates that the timber bridges do not at this point in time have temporary load limits in effect.

"The council is communicating information around temporary load limits via our various communications channels. At this stage, a community meeting is not planned."

In May, councillors voted to fund bridge repairs using the 2018/19 maintenance budget: Kangaroo Creek bridge (Bigga Road); Peelwood Creek bridge (Cooksvale Road); Peelwood Road bridge (unnamed); Coates Creek bridge (Reids Flat Road); and Cliffords Creek bridge (Wilcox Road).