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

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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  1. This bridge with out the extra traffic as a one lane bridge is an accident waiting to happen. Complete blind spots from all access points, poor line marking that only makes navigating in and out of the lower part of herbert st harder, add cars dodging traffic lights on Brisbane road west Ipswich that are flying through it all culminates to create a problem or accident. Living in view of the bridge constantly aware of near misses with cars breaking suddenly and children from nearby schools crossing on the way to school are also in danger of not being seen.
    The best thing and safest option is to close the bridge to cars until an upgraded two lane bridge can be put in it’s place.

  2. Sanity rules? I use this bridge almost every day and I am not the only one. We need a better bridge there, not a closed one. Make us some escape routes from Brisbane Street in West Ipswich please? And open up Waghorn street between Limestone And Brisbane Streets both ways again.

  3. I disagree with the council, the Herbert street bridge should be close and bollards that can be removed in the case of flooding put into place. After all the new traffic lights and road works done on Brisbane street linking Clay and Tiger street what more access to this area do you need for emergency services. The designing of new services i.e. traffic lights was done to better control access around Bunnings and other commerical facilities in the area and still allows residents ingress and exiting from the area in question. Plus the closure will reduce the road being used as a rat run to avoid the lights after school pickup or to avoid the police after an incident. Close it you would be doing everyone a favour!

    1. Sorry Sean, since the closure the rat runners now stream through the more populated surrounding streets. The bridge needs to be repaired and reopened.

  4. A solution needs to be found. I live in the bottom end of Tiger Street and use this bridge daily to avoid the nightmare of Brisbane Rd at West Ipswich. Yes there has been an attempt at improving Brisbane Street but it is still a nightmare parking lot. Maybe they should have made it one way and opened Omar Street to outgoing traffic.
    In the 2011 floods this bridge was our only way out. QR needs to either repair the existing bridge or build a new one. I hope Ipswich Council will fight for us, the immediate locals, to find a solution. And as for QR communicating with residents, we have received nothing in our letter boxes. The first we knew about this was the 2 A3 signs posted on the actual bridge. In the past we would always receive letter box drops for things such as track repairs but yet nothing for this. And yes the angles are not very good on this bridge, but locals are very experienced in navigating it, it comes down to driver capability I guess. The closure is definitely not doing us any favours, just a major inconvenience and potential safety concern in future disaster events.

  5. This is a classic little bridge that clearly QR has neglected for many, many years. How typical that when a bit of investment is needed, we take the easy/cheap option of simply closing it down.
    Yes it is a bit narrow and you do need to take a bit of care when crossing it, but so what. I am sure that if it was upgraded and the speeds were increased, there would be more accidents. It has the effect of traffic calming.
    This is a piece of local history that needs to be preserved, not left to rot.

  6. The bridge needs to be repaired or widened – definitely reopened. Since the closure, traffic has increased dramatically through the once quiet surrounding streets. We were given no official notification about the closure.

  7. Well I see there are plenty for and against the bridge closure. I’ve lived next to the bridge for 25 years and I can’t remember any traffic accident. Maybe some close calls. There are definitely blind spots but there are also stop signs. I have seen more near misses at Herbert and Syntax streets with people failing to stop.
    Most people who are aware of the bridge generally proceed with caution and are courteous in giving way
    to other users especially pedestrians.
    My gripe is with the ICC delayed reaction to the closure. They obviously new in December QR were investigating the closure. But to put out a press release on the 20th Feb 2 days prior to the closure on the 22nd saying they are disappointed by QR decision is just ICC way of appeasing locals. Get your head out of the sand ICC.
    Your road network upgrade or downgrade decisions have already made driving down BRISBANE St West Ipswich an absolute nightmare. One of the reasons the bridge deteriorated was possibly the over usage whilst the BRISBANE St roadworks were underway.
    The ICC approved all development In west Ipswich without any thought of the traffic consequences.
    The so called Strategic Planning and Development Department should be sacked. I bet they do not live within 1km of central Ipswich. While they are sitting in their little aircon concubines, the traffic just keeps banking up. Soon the traffic will be banked back to the Darling St lights, then it will be banked back to the Herbert St lights. Not to mention Burnett St East.
    These people have so many degrees between them yet they still failed. They should have a degree in psychology. Because understanding human nature would very handy. You build it and we will come.
    The strategic Planning and development department just did not plan.

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