• Tony Bosworth

Still no timeline for repairs for Lower Portland or Upper Colo – ADF will be asked about temp bridge

Flood damaged Greens Road...

The plight of Lower Portland and Upper Colo communities - both stuck with major road and bridge issues nine weeks after the floods - is not likely to end anytime soon, a full meeting of Hawkesbury council heard this evening - Tuesday.

State emergency funding has not been applied for yet for repairs to Greens Road or for replacement of the destroyed Upper Colo bridge because surveys are still being carried out at Greens Road, and a new bridge design needs to be costed and decided on for Upper Colo.

The Australian Defence Force have not been officially approached yet to see if they can come up with a temporary solution for an Upper Colo bridge but councillors pushed for immediate action on that front.

Council’s director of infrastructure services, Jeff Organ, told the meeting a report on Greens Road condition should be with consultants by the end of next week and council would look then at “interim works”.

Mr Organ added that funding was not the issue – that will ultimately come from already agreed state emergency funding – but that wouldn’t be applied for until cost estimates had been worked out, he said. He gave no indication when that would be.

Flood damaged Upper Colo bridge...

It was agreed every avenue needed to be used to get the state government to move the ADF request along and Cllr Danielle Wheeler reported MP Susan Templeman had spoken today to the office of the Federal Minister for Emergency Management, who told the MP the suggestion that the Army might be able to help with a temporary bridge would be looked at.

Cllr Wheeler had given councillors a motion this afternoon that she intended to put to the meeting this evening, saying the situation at both Lower Portland and Upper Colo was a “high level of desperation”.

When the meeting began, the Mayor put forward his Mayoral Minute, which covered most of the issues Cllr Wheeler had wanted to raise, essentially agreeing the severity of the situation and committing to try and solve both Greens Road and Upper Colo bridge situations as quickly as possible, using all available avenues.

Mr Organ said a specialist bridge designer had “bumped us up the queue” for the design for a 75-metre long replacement bridge at Upper Colo, but the council director gave no timeline.

“We had a meeting with residents a week ago,” he said. “It will take some time to go through design and approval processes.”

Mayor Conolly said residents in both areas had a lot of questions. “People are frustrated. We hear that.”

He said residents would be getting regular weekly updates via social media, plus emails, and he said the council’s recovery hub was also a source of information. There was no timeline for the weekly emails to begin.

It looks like local media – including the Post - are not going to be included in the information stream as council continues its move towards using social media.

The Mayor said both MPs – Hawkesbury’s Robyn Preston and Macquarie’s Susan Templeman - were being kept informed and their help sought.

Cllr Wheeler brought up the idea of a councillor site visit to the two affected areas. “It’s a show of solidarity,” she said.

Councillors agreed a weekend site visit would be arranged.

Deputy Mayor Mary Lyons-Buckett said “just writing to the local MP [Robyn Preston] is not going to progress it along.

“This is something that has arisen from a disaster and we have to treat it that way. I would like you [the Mayor] to ring Robyn Preston and propel this along.”

But the Mayor said the MP had called him three times in the past week asking what was happening and asking for updates.

Communications Manager Suzanne Stuart said information was being shared with residents - in Greens Road’s case with two letter box drops and three Facebook posts. Upper Colo residents had received a Facebook post on March 4, she said.

Councillors unanimously agreed to support the Mayoral Minute.

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