Bridge back on track

A BUREAUCRATIC nightmare has been overcome with the Upper Warrell Creek Railway Overbridge after months of impasse.

And Nambucca officials are said to be delighted to have found a solution to the long-running feud over who should be responsible for the upgrade.

A relieved Nambucca Shire mayor Rhonda Hoban described a frustrating week being shunted between government departments, before announcing council had reached a verbal agreement with the Australian Rail Track Corporation for a solution.

“The council will now defer taking ownership of the bridge (it is building) until after its construction,” Cr Hoban said. “It's a complicated way to do things but if the bridge is replaced as a NSW Rail Infrastructure Corporation bridge, rather than by a third party, then the ARTC accepts the responsibility for raising the bridge or lowering the tracks if necessary in the future,” Cr Hoban said.

“So if we refuse ownership of the bridge until after completion we do not need to sign the deed of agreement with the ARTC accepting the financial responsibility for future height changes.”

In December the ARTC slapped a stop work directive on the $1 million project because the council refused to sign the deed committing to paying for future vertical clearance changes.

At the time the 12-month planning phase of the project had been completed, a tender contract had been signed and work on road approaches for the new access bridge into the Macksville Industrial Estate had begun.

The council believed all necessary parties had been informed of the concept and design of the new railway overbridge and had received what it believed was confirmation to proceed with the project.

The ARTC however said it was not informed until October and was demanding the council sign the deed.

Cr Hoban said the council had acted in good faith, believing plans had been sent by RIC contractors, Transfield, to all the parties involved.

She said it was ironic that in December the council received a National award from the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, for innovative regional development at the Macksville Industrial Estate. The estate sits on the other side of the overbridge and is the reason for the new realigned, wider structure.

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