August 02, 2005

Oldest bridge being loved to death

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Australia’s oldest bridge, built by convicts in 1823, is being loved to death.

More than a quarter of a million tourists tramp across the historic convict bridge at Richmond each year, according to Richmond Residents Association spokesman Graham Abbott.

It was designed for pedestrians, horses and carts, but today huge tourist buses, hire cars and heavy vehicles stream across the convict relic.

“The bridge is a historically sensitive structure,” says Dr Abbott, and added that parts of the bridge parapets had been knocked off by traffic into the Coal River.

He said a 1995 study by the state transport department recommended a 15-tonne limit for vehicles on the bridge.

Curiously, a sign near the bridge now allows vehicles of up to 25 tonnes to cross.

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