Shire of Toodyay calls on PTA to reverse decision to close a pedestrian foot bridge

The closed footbridge.
The closed footbridge.

THE Shire of Toodyay is calling on the Public Transport Authority to reverse its decision to close the railway footbridge in Toodyay, labelling the move ‘poor public policy’.

Shire president Brian Rayner said the decision was an abdication of responsibility by the State Government.

“Toodyay is split in two by the standard gauge railway which carries all rail freight between Perth and eastern Australia,” he said.

“Toodyay’s elderly and disabled residents are being asked to take their chances with an uncontrolled level crossing between these behemoths.”

Cr Rayner denied claims by the PTA that under the Public Works Act the bridge should always have been the responsibility of the Shire of Toodyay.

“It would have been had it ever been handed over,” he said.

“It wasn’t.

“In that other great policy disaster involving the leasing of the public rail network, there was an agreement between Brookfield and the PTA that the PTA would continue to maintain the bridge.

“Somehow that agreement was forgotten.

“What we have now is a bridge under the control of the PTA that has been neglected for 50 years until it is in such a state that they have decided to demolish it.”

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said she was disappointed the PTA had stated a position prior to her having the chance to respond to the Shire of Toodyay’s letter.

“In the first instance, my office has contacted the local member and we will be getting in touch with the Shire to request further information such as any engineering assessments that have been undertaken,” she said.

“I note that among the previous Liberal-National Government’s enormous Royalties for Regions expenditure, not a cent was put towards fixing this bridge.”

Cr Rayner said the PTA were prepared to gift the bridge to the Shire of Toodyay so long as the Shire foots the repair bill.

“The Shire has been here before,” he said.

“The State Government handed the Shire the footbridge across the Avon River which connects the town with the high school. “After accepting the gift it cost the Shire almost $1 million to repair it and make it safe.”

Cr Rayner said the railway footbridge was an essential piece of infrastructure for the people of Toodyay.

“The Shire has told the PTA on several occasions that it is prepared to take responsibility for the bridge when it has been repaired,” he said.

“The Shire is not prepared to take responsibility for the maintenance debt or the PTA neglect.”