SLOW PROCESS: Stuart Pearce at the Moonpar Bridge after it was washed away but before the pedestrian bridge was built.
SLOW PROCESS: Stuart Pearce at the Moonpar Bridge after it was washed away but before the pedestrian bridge was built.

Water torture for cut-off Moonpar

THE Moonpar Bridge not only crossed a river, it crossed a council boundary, making things a little more complicated when it was partially washed away in the January floods.

Tania Pearce lives at Moonpar and pays rates to the Clarence Valley Council, but she crosses from the Bellingen Shire Council side of the Nymboida River.

Mrs Pearce said when half of the bridge had washed away earlier this year, she and her husband Stuart used a canoe to cross the river to their cars parked on the other side.

Since then the Bellingen Shire Council has built a pedestrian bridge for the five residents on the other side of the river to use.

"Letters and phone calls to the two councils, Bellingen and Grafton, achieved a pedestrian bridge which we suspect was to cover their liability in case we drowned using the canoes," Mrs Pearce said.

"However since then there has been little movement in fixing the bridge.

"In the meantime we continue to use wheelbarrows to trans- port shopping and other items from the other side of the river 400-odd metres to home, which is frustrating when it rains.

"Financially we are facing difficulties as we are unable to transport cattle out to sale or get feed in. We have been given an alternative route which is through a state forest and a national park (very rough road, uphill, down dale) which takes one-and-a-quarter hours to reach Dorrigo, whereas normally we could be in Dorrigo in 15 minutes."

Clarence Valley Council civil and works director Troy Anderson said the council had not forgotten about the residents at Moonpar but the bridge was among many pieces of flood- affected infrastructure the council had applied for funding to fix.

Mr Anderson said applications had been made for repairs but there was no word on how long it would take for those applications to be approved.

The council has to work with Roads and Maritime Services to have the infrastructure approved. If the applications are approved for funding and by RMS, the council then has to put the jobs out for tender.

Mrs Pearce said she understood the issue extended beyond the councils and was "largely due to a lack of government resources which ultimately trickles down to affect individuals like us".

Bellingen Shire Council deputy general manager of operations Stephen Taylor said he realised it was a significant issue for the people beyond the washed-out bridge but there were many other pieces of infrastructure that required fixing.

"Particularly for Bellingen Shire there are other infrastructure issues which affect a larger number of people which have taken priority since the floods earlier this year," Mr Taylor said. With the council boundary in the middle of the river, Mr Taylor said "both councils are involved in the responsibility".

"This does not help the local residents but Bellingen is still trying to progress a solution," he said.

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