Bridge on Froomes decision time looms

Froomes Road Bridge.

The future of Castlemaine’s Froomes Road Bridge is expected to become clearer after next month’s Mount Alexander Shire Council meeting.
Whether it will be replaced with a single or double-lane structure remains a matter of controversy since the former council last year ratified awarding a $1,018,300.10 contract to VEC Pty Ltd to replace the current single-lane bridge with a double-lane structure.
The decision drew the ire of many locals, worried that doing so would increase the volume and size of vehicular traffic using the leafy precinct, abutting the botanical gardens, negatively impacting safety and heritage values.
At the council’s March meeting last week, two local residents spoke out during public question time, urging the council not to proceed with plans for a double-lane replacement.
Castlemaine local Lisa Pollard said “four generations of my children’s family have lived in this area and it’s one of the most beautiful areas in Castlemaine”.
“This current change that council is proposing goes far in advance of anything that’s happened previously and will totally destroy the area,” Ms Pollard said.
“The area has six overlays already, which have been implemented by council and council staff in consultation with other governing bodies such as Heritage Victoria and the Indigenous community.”
Ms Pollard said permitting a double-lane structure to replace the current single-lane bridge would “allow double bogey trucks to travel along this minor road”.
“We really strongly urge council and council staff to consider their decisions and perhaps change their mind.”
Another local, Froomes Road Bridge Action Group member Ian Edwards, also urged councillors to recant the previously endorsed double-lane design.
“Put yourself in 100 years’ time councillors. People will thank you,” he said.
Cr Stephen Gardner noted that the matter was expected to be brought before councillors at next month’s council meeting for a decision.
Cr Christine Henderson asked for details of relevant overlays to be provided.
“I’ve heard several times now a reference to the six overlays that affect decisions to made about the bridge,” Cr Henderson said.
“Could details of those six overlays that are referred to repeatedly by the community please be included in the report.”
Mayor Cr Tony Cordy said the outcome would likely prove “interesting”.
“I’m not sure exactly where we’re going to end up with Froomes Road Bridge but I can assure you there’s some interesting debate,” Cr Cordy said.
“At this point, council is still to make a final decision on Froomes Road Bridge so it will be interesting to see how that turns out.”
The former council’s decision to demolish and replace the existing bridge followed an assessment that found the bridge was at the end of its life with several serious structural issues identified.