BAIRD GOVERNMENT SILENT ON PLANS TO REPAIR HAWKESBURY RIVER BRIDGE

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Central Coast residents are still waiting on the Baird Government to tell them when it plans to investigate the crumbling Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge two weeks after reports of its deterioration.

In mid-September, the NSW Opposition released documents showing the Government was told about the dire state of the bridge – yet the community is still waiting to receive any consultation and the bridge is still to be inspected. 

Obtained under Freedom of Information, the documents showed the Government was forewarned by engineering and development consultants in 2013 that vital repairs had to be undertaken to the bridge. 

The report also recommended that in the event no remedial action was taken, regular underwater inspections occur every 6-12 months. 

The last underwater inspection report showed exposed steel reinforcements due to large amounts of concrete missing, with remaining concrete being soft and crumbly when touched. Exposed steel reinforcements had also suffered significant corrosion. 

On 14 September, Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance stated it would be a matter of days, not weeks before an underwater inspection took place. 

Since then, he has failed to communicate with the community about the status of the underwater inspection instead opting to open up a tender for repair works. 

Immediately before a press conference held near the Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge today, the Government locked an access road used by local children and fishermen in an attempt to smother safety and structural concerns about the bridge. 

The bridge remains a crucial piece of infrastructure connecting the Central Coast and Hunter to Sydney. Approximately 100 passenger trains use the rail line each day with more than 10,000 passengers counting on its reliability.

Quotes attributable to NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley 

“The Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge is a critical piece of regional infrastructure, yet the Government hasn’t even told the community when an inspection will take place, let alone the scope of works needed to fix it.” 

“Given the damning report from engineers, the Baird Government should be doing far more to work with the community to ensure they are safe and able to rely on the bridge.”  

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Ryan Park 

“Accountability and communication are two traits the Baird Government fails to display time and time again. Unfortunately, it’s at the expense of the personal safety of Central Coast commuters.” 

“The Government needs to front up and communicate with the people of the Central Coast, not hide half baked promises to maybe, one day, possibly consider doing something.” 

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for the Central Coast David Harris 

“When you have such high unemployment levels of 7.5 per cent – like the Central Coast does – people want to know that they can catch a train to the nation’s largest city for work safely and reliably.” 

“The Government has a long way to go before the people of the Central Coast can rely on them again.” 

Quotes attributable to Member for Gosford Kathy Smith 

“Like thousands of others, I travel across the Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge to come to Sydney and assume that the necessary maintenance and safety measures have taken place. “ 

“The Baird Government has stuck true to form and continued to ignore the Central Coast.”