Still waiting - Oliver Avenue, Goonellabah.
Still waiting - Oliver Avenue, Goonellabah.

Bridge over troubled waters

Lismore Workers Sports Club manager Matt Wilson said there is a big hole in the club's takings this year and he blames the big hole in Oliver Ave for the downturn. Mr Wilson estimated that they are down about 15% on the same time last year and other businesses in the area are also feeling the pinch.

Mr Wilson and local vet Mary Clarke-Williams organised a meeting at the club on Monday night and around 20 people turned up to express their frustration with how longer it was taking to fix the road that was washed away in the May floods.

Ms Clarke-Williams said she had noticed that her takings were substantially down, around 20% on last year.

“We expected it to be slow (after the floods) but it just wasn't picking up,” she said.

It was only after she got a call from another vet in town who was inquiring about one of her regular clients who had said it was easier to go to town than to take the detour, that she realised the road was having a definite impact on her business.

Matt Wilson said it was “ridiculous” that it had taken so long for council to get a geo-tech report and he was frustrated at not being able to get a clear answer as to whose responsibility it was to fix the road and who had to sign off on the funding.

“It seems ridiculous that we have to shake that information out of Council... It's not just businesses that are affected, there are families who have moved here to be close to support services and Oliver Avenue is a major arterial. A drive that used to take three to five minutes can now take 15 minutes. It's a logistical nightmare for some people.”

On Tuesday Council announced that construction of a new $1.3 million bridge will begin in late October.

Council's Executive Director for Infrastructure Services, Garry Hemsworth, said the decision to build a bridge came after much consideration. of a number of options.

“We investigated two separate designs for a bridge as well as an arch culvert at this site before coming to a conclusion for the preferred option, a pre-cast concrete structure,” he said.

He said the new bridge should be completed by mid February 2010 and would have a life expectancy of 100 years.

The money for the project will come from the Natural Disaster Fund and will be administered by the Roads and Traffic Authority.

Mr Wilson said that while it was good to know the timeline, it was still a bit galling for him and other businesses that it had taken so long to decide what to do.

“It does stick in the craw a bit because we will miss our Christmas trade,” he said.

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