HEPBURN Shire Council could repair the historically significant Wheeler’s Bridge at Lawrence but it would come at a cost.
The state’s oldest Monier Arch bridge still open to traffic, Wheeler’s Bridge was built by engineers Sir John Monash and Joshua Anderson in 1900.
As well as contributing to the history of Monash bridges in Victoria, it also provides access across Birch Creek on the Creswick-Lawrence Road, outside of Creswick.
But due to its deteriorating condition the 113-year-old structure now requires major repairs or replacement.
The council will consider an engineer’s report with several recommendations at its ordinary meeting tonight.
The preferred options include repairing the bridge at a cost of up to $2.5 million, or retaining the arches and constructing new parts for up to $2.75 million.
The council could also construct a new bridge while restoring the current one to remain, but not be open to traffic.
Engineering Heritage Victoria chair Owen Peake recently said he would condemn a decision to destroy the bridge.
“The best outcome would be if it is repaired or restored, rather than destroyed and replaced,” Mr Peake said.
If a new bridge was built at a nearby location, Mr Peake suggested that the heritage bridge could be adopted for other uses.
Hepburn Shire Council director of engineering Bruce Lucas said that the heritage status of the bridge was a major consideration.
“If the bridge was demolished, council would have to revoke their own heritage listing of the bridge,” he said.
The bridge is historically significant because it represents evolutionary techniques of bridge building and excellence in engineering design using the ‘Monier’ concrete arch construction method.