Small bridges reopen

By Deniliquin Pastoral Times

A number of small bridges closed at the NSW and Victorian border have since been reopened after community lobbying.

As of yesterday, the Tooleybuc Bridge, Swan Hill Bridge, Barham Bridge and Echuca Moama Bridge were all open.

Both the Nyah Bridge and Gonn Crossing can be accessed by emergency vehicles and local traffic from 7am to 10pm daily.

The Barmah Bridge is also a check point for emergency vehicles and local traffic.

However Speewa Ferry is closed, with traffic detoured to the Swan Hill Bridge 30.6km away.

Border residents started lobbying for bridges to be opened since before they were closed Tuesday evening last week.

These community members were being forced to travel significantly longer distances to access schools, work and to buy essential items and fuel, even with a border permit. 

NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Scott Whyte came under some fire when he defended the bridge closures, telling a media conference that those affected by bridge closures only have to travel about 10km to the next one.

But some residents in the Murray River Council area say the closures forced then to clock up an additional 200km per round trip.

Assistant Commissioner Whyte said hard closures and checkpoints are being reassessed every day.

‘‘We’ll monitor traffic, we’ll monitor delays and where we need to we will open hard closures,’’ he said at the press conference.

‘‘Over the first 24 hours we continually reviewed everything and we determined we needed to open (three bridges) that we hadn’t opened.

‘‘There’s absolutely no impediment to emergency services in any of those areas.’’

Mr Whyte denied claims that it was a lack of resources which prompted the closures of some bridges.

‘‘We’ve got enough police on the ground to open where we need to open and we’re managing quite well. But some of these crossings are within 10km or 5km of another crossing and it doesn’t really make a lot of sense to have them both running,’’ he said.