Robertsons Bridge – Wielangta Road
DATE 04/11/2010In recognition of the Wielangta Road’s importance to the local community, tourists, and the forest industry, the State Government recently announced that it would provide funding of $500,000 to construct a replacement for the now-closed Robertsons Bridge.
Forestry Tasmania is overseeing the works, and it is expected that the road will re-open to through traffic early in 2011. Gunns Limited, which maintains the road, will fund the cost of removing the old bridge.
Robertsons Bridge, which provided the crossing on the Wielangta Road over the Sandspit River, was erected in 1987-88 of timber construction. It would normally have been expected to have a working life of 25 years. However, decay was more rapid than expected due to the damp forest environment, and the bridge was closed following an engineering assessment carried out after heavy rains in July 2009. Consequently, the Wielangta Road, previously an important link between the east coast and Tasman Peninsula, has also been closed to through traffic since this time.
Forestry Tasmania, supported by specialist environmental advice, has completed a thorough assessment of the site, including surveys of the site’s flora, fauna, geology, soil and water, cultural values, stakeholder issues and operational requirements. These assessments will ensure that any unfavourable impacts from the site works can be minimised or mitigated, for example, preventative measures will be put in place to control sediment movement in the river.
A formal cultural heritage record of the old bridge, which was of traditional construction and built from local blue gum, has also been compiled.
If required for safety reasons, specific hazardous trees near the work site may need to be felled.
Current road safety requirements will ensure improvements to guarding and sight distances at the approaches to the bridge. Additionally, signs will be installed to warn traffic to give way at the crossing and slow down near the Sandspit picnic area.
The Sandspit Forest Reserve, which includes a picnic area adjacent to the bridge, will be closed to the public during the reconstruction works.