RESIDENTS who live near the weir crossing at Barnsley say the structural problems that led to its closure should have been identified earlier.
The Newcastle Herald reported on Thursday that Lake Macquarie City Council closed the single lane crossing on November 13 for a “programmed structural assessment” and identified a “large void below the concrete deck”.
A spokesperson for the council said it was waiting for specialist equipment to arrive and planned to fill the void with grout.
They said it expected the crossing to be closed until next week, as a minimum.
Resident Mark Delaney said the council should have identified the problem when installing infrastructure on the road last year.
“The end of the road is this one lane traffic structure on a nasty bend where you go round it and can’t see trucks coming from the other end,” he said.
“You would think doing all the work that someone would have had the thought to say ‘This is a weak link in that road corridor’.
“Why would they not have had a look to say ‘Is this up to standard?’
“It’s like building a brand new highway and having a rickety old timber bridge at the end. It’s a pimple.”
The spokesperson said the council installed solar-powered flashing signage at six points along Racecourse Road and The Weir Road in September 2017 to notify the community when the weir crossing was closed due to dangerous conditions.
The signage is turned on via SMS when conditions become critical or pose a risk to public safety. Residents on The Weir Road also receive alerts when the crossing is closed.
Mr Delaney said the crossing is usually closed once or twice a year for about two days.
He said the last message he received was sent on November 16 and said the weir would “remain closed to the middle of next week”.
The council also installed a $40,000 system that uses a telemetry device in Cockle Creek to collect data about depth and velocity of water passing of the weir.
It sends SMS alerts to the council at key water levels, allowing staff to monitor the crossing.
The spokesperson said more than 2000 vehicles use The Weir Road daily, according to 2015 traffic data.
“Access across the weir is a very significant issue,” Mr Delaney said.
“If it’s shut there’s no close-by alternative and it makes it very difficult for people to travel.”
He said the “general consensus” among residents was that council needed to “get trucks off that road”.
The spokesperson said the council “may impose a traffic load limit to ensure safety of users”.
They said it was also “undertaking a study to determine options for maintenance, replacement or other alternatives” to the structure.
The weir was constructed between 1925 and 1927 as part of the Cockle Creek Power Station.
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