Bridge closure disrupts

Malmsbury’s Ross Road residents have been denied access over the street’s historic bluestone bridge until safety repairs are made.

Many residents were left frustrated last week with no notice or explanation of the closure, and forced to re-route using what some describe as “pot-hole-ridden dirt roads that pose more risk than the bridge”.

The bridge has been blocked with signed fencing and reduced to walking traffic only. Initially, residents were told it could be up to 18 months before it would be accessible again by vehicle.

While Macedon Ranges Shire Council admitted fault with early communications, Assets and Operations Director Shane Walden said an assessment of the bridge in May identified a structural risk.

“Due to the condition of the bridge, the engineer recommended its immediate closure,” Mr Walden told the Express.

“This is an old structure (100 years). The stone abutment walls have moved, the bridge end walls have sustained damage and this combined with a lack of retaining walls on top of the bridge means the bridge needs to be closed until rectified. This has occurred due to vehicle traffic over time.”

The council identified a detour using Baldry Street and Racecourse Road (around the Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre).

Mr Walden said the council was investigating options to upgrade the bridge to current engineering standards that still reflect the bluestone character.

He said the repair timeframe is not yet known but residents would be informed of the progress.

Depending on the repair option, it’s expected that works could cost up to around $400,000.

Mr Walden said the council sent letters to affected residents on September 2, however, over the grand final weekend became aware that some did not receive a letter.

He said site visits were made the next Tuesday to hand-deliver the original letter and a follow-up letter with further information.

“All houses in the Ross, Young, Raleigh and Baldry streets were visited, with all notified regarding the temporary closure of the bridge to vehicles,” Mr Walden said.

“Council has assured residents that the closure is not permanent. The council has received strong feedback from residents confirming the importance of reopening the bridge to vehicles once the safety concerns have been addressed. Residents will be communicated with during the repair process.”