Georgetown locals walking the new Bib Loudon Memorial Bridge across the Einasleigh River between Georgetown and Mt Surprise.THE 416-metre Einasleigh River Bridge between Mt Surprise and Georgetown has proven to be a bridge in time for the 2011 wet season.
Opened last week by federal minister for regional Australia, regional development and local government, Simon Crean, and built by DAV Bridge Constructions, the bridge consists of almost 6000 tonnes of columns, spans and decking, and provided work for almost 50 local North Queenslanders.
After the great damage inflicted on the old causeway by the 2009/10 wet season, Mayor of Etheridge Shire, Warren Devlin, decided there was no point in spending money continually fixing something that was going to be washed out again.
He canvassed the idea of a new bridge with neighbouring councils and government departments, and the end result, the new bridge, now stands as testimony to following through on a good idea.
Completed in very short time, con-struction began in April 2010, and the bridge was opened to traffic on Dec-ember 23.
Minister Crean said that wherever the inspiration for the bridge came from, it is a tribute to them, but most importantly it represents the cooperation of six councils.
“It is a wonderful example of councils working together for the common good of the region as a whole and a fine example of connectivity between them, and will connect the future of the region,” Mr Crean said.
Mayor Devlin told the audience that the bridge would not only ensure the supply and travel to the west, but also assist with the development of outback tourism during the wet months.
“Already several Georgetown residents have been able to travel to the coast for medical treatment via the new bridge, without which they would have had to fly or delay their treatment,” he said.
Describing the bridge as a lifeline to local industry and residents, Senator Jan McLucas said the bridge was a lifeline to the people living west of the Einasleigh River.
“The people of the Etheridge have been waiting 30 years for this bridge and now they must be overjoyed it’s finally here,” Senator Lucas said.
The Einasleigh River Bridge is not the only major construction happening in the Etheridge Shire. After the new bridge construction looked as if it would come in under budget, a decision was made to approach the Federal Government for extra funds for a bridge over the Copperfield River at the township of Einasleigh, 50km upstream.
The funds were forthcoming and the Copperfield Bridge is expected to be completed in four to six weeks.
Mr Crean said he intended to spend the following two days looking at other potential projects in the Etheridge, Carpentaria and Burke shires one of which is an irrigation dam on the Gilbert River. This dam will provide irrigation water for approximately 9000 hectares, and allow graziers to value-add to their herds by fattening and finishing stock in the district.
“The Federal Labor Government is open to all ideas but we don’t want a stack of wish lists – ideas must stack up, and if they do we will give them serious consideration,” Mr Crean said.
Mr Katter said that the Gilbert and Flinders river systems both needed serious consideration in regards to water storage.
“If it went ahead, it represented the first movement on water storage in Australia in the past 30 years and it was coming from Federal Labor,” Mr Katter said.
The new bridge across the Einasleigh River will be named the Bib Loudon Memorial Bridge in honour of Bib Loudon, a grazier from the nearby Eveleigh Station which Mr Loudon owned and worked for many decades.
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