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Council calls on Queensland Rail to keep Herbert Street bridge open to motorists

Herbert Street bridge to close to motorists from Saturday

Ipswich City Council does not support Queensland Rail’s closure of the Herbert Street bridge and has requested QR continue to undertake maintenance works to ensure the bridge remain open to all road users. 

Interim Administrator Steve Greenwood said council will also seek talks with QR to discuss options going forward. 

“It’s fair to say that QR’s announcement that it will close its Herbert Street road-over-rail bridge at Sadliers Crossing to vehicles from Saturday 22 February has caught many in the community by surprise,” he said. 

“Simply put, the bridge is a QR asset and while it links with council’s transport network, council is not responsible for its maintenance or potential replacement. 

“While council acknowledges the bridge has had significant decay since 2012 and that temporary measures have been undertaken to prolong its life, council’s long-standing position is that the bridge’s closure would result in considerable impacts on local residents. It’s also important to note that during major flood events, the bridge is the highest point for the local catchment and is used as an emergency access when other roads are flooded. 

“Over several years, council has worked with QR to consider structural concerns about the bridge and the surrounding transport network. Since being advised of QR’s decision to close the bridge to vehicles, council has formally requested further engagement with QR with a view of reaching an agreement or a measure that can be taken to ensure that the bridge remains open to all users.” 

The single lane, two-way timber bridge over the railway line, located on Herbert Street, Sadliers Crossing, is about 120 years old. 

The bridge is owned, operated and maintained by QR. Herbert Street functions as a collector street and connects Burnett Street to the north-east and Brisbane Street (via Tiger Street) to the south. 

It is primarily used as a local access point for residents in the area, including for school children accessing schools north of the rail line. It also assists the surrounding strategic transport network by redistributing traffic to other areas. The bridge can also act as an emergency access during a major flood event. 

QR closed the bridge to all traffic in 2012 due to its deteriorated condition. An investigation resulted in a load limit of five tonnes being applied for all vehicles using the bridge, and it was reopened to traffic. Prior to the reopening, QR installed new light weight kerbs to guide vehicles towards the middle of the bridge to redistribute traffic loads. 

Council’s position in 2014 was that the bridge remain open with full access preserved and that hasn’t changed. 

QR informed council in December 2019 that inspections over recent years had noted steady deterioration of the bridge with the most recent identifying levels of deterioration that warrant its closure to all road traffic. 

QR and council officers had met regularly in recent years and that was expected to be ongoing. However, the QR decision to close it immediately was unexpected. 

From Saturday, motorists are prohibited from using the bridge but QR wants to maintain the bridge in the short term, possibly up to two years, as a pedestrian and cycle crossing over the rail corridor. 

Future replacement of the bridge will be subject to further discussions between QR and council. 

Council concerns relate to potential changes needed to the immediate road network and the future accommodation of cyclists and pedestrians at the structure. There may also be potential broader traffic network impacts that may require capital improvements to accommodate the changes in traffic. 

Consideration would also need to be given to a secondary access location for emergency egress in a flood event, and how emergency services access the area by the lack of road network connection due to the closure. 

QR had said it would communicate all decisions with local residents ahead of a closure.

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