HEPBURN Shire Council can’t afford to repair the historically significant Wheeler’s Bridge at Lawrence on its own and would need to secure a grant.
Cracks have formed in the 113-year-old bridge and it is in urgent need of repair or replacement.
The council voted this week to investigate repairing the structure at a cost of up to $2.5 million, or retaining the arches and constructing new parts for up to $2.75 million.
Mayor Bill McClenaghan said the bridge was not only historically significant, it was also needed.
“Without that bridge, people in that part of the world would need to take a big detour to get into Ballarat and Creswick,” he said.
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.
Engineering Heritage Victoria chair Owen Peake recently said he would condemn a decision to destroy it.
“The best outcome would be if it is repaired or restored, rather than destroyed and replaced,” Mr Peake said.
Cr McClenaghan said there was no immediate rush to repair the bridge, but it could not be left too long as water had soaked into the structure.
“That particular bridge is not something we could fund ourselves from the rate base,” he said.
“We’d be looking for funding.”
The council has just received $1 million in Regional Development Victoria funding for country roads and bridges.
It will use money for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of 3.3 kilometres of road pavement on the Clunes-Mt Cameron Road in Mt Cameron and works in Wynvale Close in Hepburn Springs.
Cr McClenaghan said the council was responsible for many roads and bridges in the shire and that many were important routes for transport, emergency vehicles and the community.
“The funding provided through the country roads and bridges program allows council to undertake additional works on its road and bridge assets ensuring that their condition is improved for the communities use,” said Cr McClenaghan.