ONE local councillor fears there might not be much council can do as the fate of Manilla’s viaduct bridge hangs in the balance.
There are concerns in the community the wooden viaduct could be torn down, however, John Holland Rail’s intentions remain unclear.
In a letter to Tamworth Regional Council (TRC), dated June 15, John Holland proposed “to remove timber sections of the viaduct”.
The company’s concerns centre around decaying timber in the viaduct as posing a safety risk to the public “due to the potential for various timber sections to dislodge and fall”.
John Holland maintains the disused viaduct on behalf of Transport for NSW.
Council was given until July 6 to respond to John Holland’s proposal and are now seeking an extension to handover its comment on the proposal.
Councillors will vote on the issue at Tuesday’s meeting.
If council is unable to get an extension, councillors could decide to oppose the demolition on the grounds of no community consultation being held in Manilla.
A spokesperson for John Holland told The Leader it plans to have community consultation in Manilla in the coming months.
Community outcry is brewing over the potential loss of the of the 111-year-old viaduct.
Manilla-based Tamworth councillor Jim Maxwell said the community might start to “sing out a bit louder” about the issue.
But he conceded there’s not much council could do to save the viaduct.
While the viaduct is listed on council’s Local Environment Plan, it offers no protection against demolition by a public authority such as Transport for NSW.
“I’d love to see it stay, perhaps people-power can get it done,” he said.
“The downside is the fact it has been disused.
“I can’t see someone wanting to put money in it because it’s been so long.”
However, Cr Maxwell said the push of local rail trail advocate Emily Bowman could see the ageing Manilla landmark given a fresh purpose.
Mrs Bowman wants to see the disused line between Tamworth and Barraba transformed into a walking trail and sees the viaduct as a crucial piece of the potential tourism trek.
“This is not good timing to find out John Holland want to destroy a viaduct,” she said.
“If we lose the viaduct, we’re probably going to lose the rail trail.”