Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert and Whitsunday Regional Council mayor Andrew Willcox at the official opening of new bridge over the Don River on Inverdon Rd at Bowen.
Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert and Whitsunday Regional Council mayor Andrew Willcox at the official opening of new bridge over the Don River on Inverdon Rd at Bowen. Monique Preston

New bridge to improve access during floods

A NEW bridge across the Don River at Inverdon Rd will mean residents will only be cut off from town by floodwater for a few days at a time, instead of for 10 to 12 days.

The new bridge was officially opened on Friday by Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert and Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox.

The new concrete structure replaces the old wooden bridge that linked residents at the end of Inverdon Rd to the rest of Bowen.

The old bridge, originally built in 1940, was destroyed in Tropical Cyclone Debbie just over two-and-a-half years ago.

Water levels in the Don River saw the bridge go under several metres of water.

When the flood receded, the bridge had shifted sideways by about 1.5m at four of the 10 piers.

The new $6.5 million bridge was mainly funded by the Federal and State government's through the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangement, while council provided $75,000 for the project.

Admiring the new bridge over the Don River on Inverdon Rd are (from left) contractor PDM director Andrew Franzman, Whitsunday Regional Council councillor Mike Brunker, Member for mackay Julieanne Gilbert, Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox and Cr Dave Clark and Inverdon Rd resident Carl Walker.
Admiring the new bridge over the Don River on Inverdon Rd are (from left) contractor PDM director Andrew Franzman, Whitsunday Regional Council councillor Mike Brunker, Member for mackay Julieanne Gilbert, Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox and Cr Dave Clark and Inverdon Rd resident Carl Walker. Monique Preston

As well as now being made of concrete, the new bridge is also one metre higher than the old one was.

Council's disaster recovery project director Trevor Williams said while the extra height would not stop the bridge being flooded at times, it would mean that the pass was cut-off would be shorter.

Previously residents would be isolated for 10-12 days, however the new bridge will mean the river will be passable a couple of days after a flood, Mr Williams said.

Mrs Gilbert said the Queensland Premier was adamant about not rebuilding things like-for-like after a cyclone - rather improving them for the future.

"Our philosophy is to make sure we renew infrastructure that's there and make sure it's better,” she said.

"This is a substantial bridge (now).”

"It's fantastic. It looks like something that's going to be there for years to come.”

Whitsunday Regional Council mayor Andrew Willcox and Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert at the official opening of the new bridge over the Don River on Inverdon Rd at Bowen.
Whitsunday Regional Council mayor Andrew Willcox and Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert at the official opening of the new bridge over the Don River on Inverdon Rd at Bowen. Monique Preston

Mr Williams said the construction of the bridge was challenging as the Don River flooded six or seven times while the contractor was doing work.

"This year, the old bridge would have been cut in April and May,” he said.

Since Cyclone Debbie, residents had been using a side track at ground level to cross the river.


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