The Genoa Pedestrian Bridge is open, and the community is connected again!
A key piece of infrastructure for the town, the new footbridge has been hailed as a boon for the district. About 150 people joined East Gippsland Shire Council Mayor Cr Mark Reeves for the opening on Saturday, May 28.
“The bridge is an important part of life in Genoa. After the loss of the bridge in the 2019-20 fires, we all knew a rebuild was needed. It was a community priority, we made it a priority, and it is wonderful to now have the bridge open,” Cr Reeves said.
Council has worked collaboratively with the community to replicate parts of the former bridge in the design.
“The new bridge picks up on elements of the old timber truss bridge, with the white steel trusses a great feature and nod to the past. Looking at the bridge, you immediately know you’re in Genoa!” Cr Reeves said.
The destruction of the historic 94-year-old bridge in the Black Summer Bushfires greatly impacted the community. It had served as an important pedestrian link between the popular wayside stop, playground and tennis court, and the township.
The new 117-metre bridges reestablishes that connection across the Genoa River.
“We know providing access for residents and visitors is especially important. After a challenging couple of years, Genoa residents can now socially and physically reconnect and be even prouder of their town,” Cr Reeves said.
“Before it was lost, the bridge was one of five surviving timber truss bridges in the state. We all felt a deep sense of loss when we saw or heard the news that the historic bridge had been damaged beyond repair. It was heartbreaking, but the new footbridge will enhance the area and help raise the town’s profile by attracting people back to the park,” Cr Reeves said.
“The community, led by the Genoa Town Committee, has strongly advocated for the project, and we thank everyone involved for their input.”
Cr Reeves explained that most infrastructure and bushfire recovery projects usually have a portion of external government grant funding.
“This project is different – Council funded the entire $1.5 million project,” Cr Reeves said.
“Using Federal funds for other roads projects so we could free up, we used Council cash to build this project – a project that did not meet external fund guidelines. When grant funding was not available, we moved quickly to fully fund the project because we understood the importance to the community.”
The bridge was constructed by local form Jarvis Norwood, and the project was met with some challenges.
“Mother Nature contributed to the old bridge’s demise and has certainly thrown us some challenges in the rebuild – particularly the seven major rain events,” Cr Reeves said.
“Add in COVID-19 challenges, with limited staff allowed onsite, plus the construction supply chain demands, and the opening of the Genoa Pedestrian Bridge is great cause for celebration on many fronts!”