Arthur Nettelfield and Greg Griffiths from the SBRC’s Natural Resources and Parks department inspecting the Tingoora railway bridge on Wednesday

September 10, 2015

Can Tingoora’s historic wooden railway bridge be converted into a Rail Trail pedestrian bridge? The answer should be known by the end of October.

A recent report to the South Burnett Regional Council by consultant Dr Dan Tingley says the bridge is in “fair condition” right now, and can be restored to good condition with a bit of work.

But Natural Resources and Parks manager Greg Griffiths is reserving his final opinion until he receives quotes on the full cost of the job, which would include building a pedestrian walkway and safety handrails over the top of the structure.

He hopes to have these within two months.

Dr Tingley recently carried out a full engineering inspection of the bridge.

It involved using moisture meters to identify how high the moisture content was in the timbers; taking core samples to detect if there was any internal decay; and sending sonic pulses through the timbers to measure their strength.

He found that all things considered, the bridge is in reasonable shape and should be capable of being turned into a Rail Trail pedestrian bridge.

On Wednesday, Greg Griffiths and Arthur Nettelfield, from Council’s Natural Resources Department, visited the bridge to inspect some of the flaws Dr Tingley identified in his report.

“I’d like to think we could make this a pedestrian bridge,” Greg said.

“Part of the attraction of Rail Trails for a lot of people are the historic aspects, and the Tingoora bridge is the longest surviving wooden rail bridge in the South Burnett.

“It’s also very visible from the highway, so it would be a great advertisement for the Rail Trail. In fact, I think it could become a bit of a regional icon.”

However – like engineers everywhere – he intends to keep his powder dry until he has all the facts before coming to a final opinion.

“We have to work within our budget using the money the State Government has given us,” Greg said.

“If restoring and converting this bridge would put us over budget, we’ll just have to create a route around it and leave it for now.

“I think that would be a pity but it’s what we’ll do if the numbers don’t add up.”

Greg is more confident about the Trail’s other bridges, nearly all of which have their original concrete footings intact.

He said these should be easy and inexpensive to convert to pedestrian bridges.

“Railway bridges have to take loads of hundreds of tonnes, so a pedestrian bridge is pretty easy to build by comparison,” he said.

“Another plus is that these bridges have withstood everything nature has thrown at them since they were built, so we expect they’ll be low-maintenance in the future.”

Arthur and Greg share a joke while they inspect the bridge’s supports; some sections may need to be injected with special compounds to remedy deterioration
Tingoora is the longest surviving wooden railway bridge in the South Burnett
Extensive testing was carried out on every part of the bridge’s structure
At present the top of the bridge is closed off; a wooden pedestrian walkway with safety handrails will be built along the top if the bridge is converted for Rail Trail use

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