Manilla resident says new Namoi bridge will drive wedge through town, create safety problem | The Northern Daily Leader

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A former Manilla councillor is concerned the town’s new bridge could create a safety problem by diverting truck traffic past a primary school and other popular institutions in Arthur Street. But Tamworth Regional Council said it had repeatedly explained to Peter Dutton the project is the best and safest solution for the community. Mr Dutton has led a campaign against the bridge upgrade since it was announced last year, claiming the $8.7m initially budgeted for the upgrade was too little to do the job properly, or in the right place. READ MORE: Many B-double trucks heading north or south currently use the Higgins Avenue bridge to avoid the existing narrow Manilla bridge, he said. But in November last year council announced the town’s new bridge and road upgrade would direct traffic down a route using Arthur and Rowan streets. “We’re not opposed to a new bridge, we just think the location is incorrect,” he said. “And from a safety issues, you’ve got the primary school, you’ve got the ambulance station, you’ve got the daycare centre, and you’re basically cutting the town clean in half.” TRC Director of Regional Services Peter Resch said council had responded multiple times to Mr Dutton directly about his concerns. “Since March this year, our staff have had face-to-face meetings with Mr Dutton and responded to emails including a detailed technical and plain English response to 19 separate issues he has raised,” he said. “I have also tried to address his concerns in correspondence last month and the General Manager has also written to Mr Dutton earlier this month. Want more local news? Subscribe to the Leader to read it here first “We know he has also received information from a number of NSW Government agencies including Transport for NSW and the Environment Protection Authority. “I am satisfied that staff have genuinely tried to explain the details of the project and demonstrated that the solution being implemented not only complies with all of the necessary standards, but is also the best and safest solution for the community and broader travelling public.” Tamworth councillor Mark Rodda said with construction due to start on the project in October there was little hope of improving on what he called a “budget, mediocre option”. But Mr Rodda last week met with a number of Manilla residents who are lobbying for changes to safety issues around the project, including flashing hazard warning signs. “Those trucks will thunder down Fossickers Way, across the low-level bridge access and then up Arthur Street and they won’t slow down,” he said. “You certainly would want to do everything you possibly could to mitigate any safety issues. As you come into Manilla there’s a 50 km/h zone sign for a reason and that’s because on the right-hand side is a day-care zone and then there’s a pool on the left and then there’s a school. “When they’re all operating they’re pretty busy places and I think that the people of Manilla deserve to have those concerns addressed before construction and certainly prior to completion.” Have your say, send a letter to the editor. Mr Dutton, a former banker and 30-year Manilla homeowner, also objected to a decision to increase the speed limit to 60km/h on the road approaching the bridge from the north between Charles and Market streets. And he said the new bridge, would have more severe gradient, forcing truck drivers to noisily use air brakes or the accelerator more often. Council plans to soundproof about 20 homes on the route, but Mr Dutton says they should soundproof even more, including his house. The Namoi River Crossing Project will replace the town’s existing 130-year-old Manilla Street bridge, which is so narrow it becomes a one-way thoroughfare when a truck crosses it. Despite the bottleneck, nearly a million tonnes of freight cross the 110-metre bridge annually. The new bridge will cross the Namoi from Arthur Street, where it will join Lloyd Street and return to the Fossickers Way. TRC considered an alternative route through Langworthys Lane and River Street but determined it was not workable. Support the local news that keeps you informed – subscribe today.

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