By HARRY CLARKE
HOLIDAY makers and water sports enthusiasts on the Western Downs are furious that one of the region’s most popular recreational areas remains closed, nearly two weeks after flood water caused damage to an adjacent roadway.
Parklands and campgrounds at the Chinchilla Weir remain closed to the public because of engineering concerns with the Chinchilla Tara Rd bridge, which crosses the Condamine River near the public area.
The roadway is managed by the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR), which promises to fully assess the bridge and open it to one-way traffic “by Christmas” pending safety approvals.
But instead of blocking the bridge alone, TMR staff have erected a blockade on Chinchilla Tara Rd at the Greenswamp Rd turnoff – nearly 3km from the bridge and preventing access to the Weir.
Several users of the Chinchilla Weir’s recreational area, including members of the Chinchilla Ski Club, are baffled as to why damage to the bridge should deny access to the parklands, boat ramp and camp grounds.
“It just seems bizarre,” one ski club member said.
“Fair enough if they need to inspect the bridge and make sure it’s safe before opening it up to traffic again, but it’s ridiculous that they’ve blocked off all access to the weir.
“We’re ready to go and start cleaning up the ski club area and it would be nice to be able to use the weir this weekend, when a lot of people are around for the Christmas holidays and want to go out and enjoy themselves.
“It’s not often that we’ve got so much great water, and people want to make the most of it.”
The Weir’s recreational facilities last year underwent a multi-million dollar upgrade by the Western Downs Regional Council to improve the amenity and safety of public areas.
The Caller understands council staff have begun cleaning up flood damage to the area, despite public access remaining closed.
In a statement, TMR staff gave no clearer indication on when Chinchilla Tara Rd would be open again, other than to say “before Christmas”.
Full TMR statement:
We identified damage from erosion at the abutment of the Chinchilla Weir bridge on the Chinchilla-Tara Road last month (November).
One lane on the bridge was closed to reduce the impact from traffic on the damaged section while repairs were organised.
In anticipation of the Condamine River flooding last week, the bridge was closed for the safety of road users.
Unfortunately, floodwaters have caused further erosion and we have kept the bridge closed while the damage is assessed.
We aim to undertake interim repairs so at least one lane can be opened to traffic before Christmas.
More comprehensive repairs will be scheduled next year.
For the safety of drivers, the Chinchilla-Tara Road is closed between Greenswamp Road and Avenue Road while we assess the damage from floods. This is temporarily preventing access to the Chinchilla Weir camping grounds.