Plans to preserve piece of bridge history not a done deal
AS HE stood on the now dismantled Sportsmans Creek Bridge approaches, Lawrence Museum and Historical Society president Rob Forbes held a series of letters that appalled him.
For the past two years, based on a positive relationship with Roads and Maritime Services, the society had made plans to reconstruct a full section of the bridge, preserving its memory at the museum.
Now, with a change in management, that agreement made has seemingly vanished, with RMS offering a 'take it or leave it' approach to what will be preserved.
"I'm appalled to think that a small local historical society trying to save one of the most historic and important structures in Lawrence has to record every single conversation made with every single person we talked to so we don't get shafted," Mr Forbes said.
Mr Forbes said for the first stages of planning, the rapport with RMS could not have been better, with RMS employees regularly visiting the museum to see what could be done.
"They couldn't do enough for us," he said. "They even organised a license from the EPA so we could take some of the building that was removed for the bridge which had lead paint.
"It carried over when we wanted a section of the bridge. I stood in the museum with the representative and we looked at the model so we were talking about the exact same thing."
Originally it was agreed two complete ends of one span (both sides of the structure) could be reassembled to create a good representation of the bridge.
"The engineer at the meeting said we could have two complete ends of one span and 'probably' also a large amount of the other bridge timbers 'if we wanted it'," Mr Forbes said.
After the bridge was demolished recently, and with a change in management at RMS, these verbal agreements made months earlier were disregarded, according to Mr Forbes.
"An email was received stating we could now have only two ends of one truss (one side of the structure only) and 150 square metres of decking - and that this was non-negotiable," he said.
"We've even had emails saying if we had a problem with the quality of the timber they'll sell the whole lot to salvage... and we feel pressured to sign the new agreement or it'll best lost forever.
"There was no agreement, but when they said yes for two years, as far as I'm concerned the deal was done."
A spokesman said RMS had worked with the Lawrence community, including the museum and historical society, throughout the Sportsmans Creek Bridge project.
"Roads and Maritime has provided a replica of the bridge to the society to commemorate this historic structure, along with an agreement to supply timbers from the old bridge for re-use as a commemorative structure," the spokesman said.
"The agreement includes providing 150sqm of bridge decking timbers to be used as a floor to support the old Ashby ferry, two ends of one truss (each end of one single truss) and supports for display purposes only and transport of the timber and truss to the museum.
"This agreement has not changed and Roads and Maritime will continue to work with the historical society to commemorate the old Sportsmans Creek timber truss bridge."
The Lawrence Historical Society urges people to show support for the cause by either contacting Mr Forbes on 0412 715 805, or leaving comments on their Facebook page.