WITH dust still settling over doomed plans to erect a traffic bridge over Denmark River at East River Road, a highway engineer has urged the Shire to start planning for a faster southern crossing now.
At a recent Denmark council meeting, Brian Humphries asked Shire CEO Bill Parker when planning for a southern crossing might commence.
Mr Humphries, a highway engineer by profession, later told The Voice of the South he was concerned Denmark could be exposed in an emergency if a second bridge were not eventually built.
“You’ve got to go right up to Churchill Road, about 10kms up and 10kms back,” Mr Humphries said of a scenario in which the current town bridge might be blocked.
“In an emergency, you want to get out now.
“At present, there would be a bottleneck; it would be chaos.”
Mr Humphries said the lead-time to build a bridge may be two decades or more.
“If we don’t plan for it now, we’re penalising the community for the next 20 years,” he said.
“This issue is not going to go away.”
In July last year, Denmark Council rejected controversial plans for a bridge at East River Road seven elected officials to one.
The dissenting councillor was Roger Seeney who argued the bridge was required as an evacuation route because Denmark had been assessed as having the highest fire risk in Western Australia.
A consultant’s report commissioned by the Shire in the lead-up to July’s rejection of the East River Road option found that route would be the most time-consuming one – behind Churchill Road – in the event of an evacuation.
The report further found a southern bypass, as championed by Mr Humphries, would be the quickest and preferred evacuation route from Denmark.
Shire CEO Bill Parker told The Voice of the South a second bridge would be considered “over the next few years”.
“Consideration will be given to major transport routes when developing the new local planning strategy,” he said.
“The development of a new strategy will be based on a sound project planning and engagement framework that will be considered by Council towards the end of this financial year.”