THE Tyers community was given one of the best early Christmas presents they could’ve asked for late last year – the reopening of Tyers Road – allowing residents direct access to and from Traralgon.

After more than 400 days of non-use, the Tyers community finally has direct access to Traralgon, after the completion of the Latrobe River Bridge.

Since the end of 2022, Tyers residents have had to navigate via Glengarry to get to Traralgon, more than doubling their regular 10-or-so-minute trip.

In 2015, the then-80-year-old bridge on Tyers Rd was planned to be rebuilt by the state government – now more than eight years later, those plans have come to fruition.

Member for Morwell, Martin Cameron lobbied the state government to fast-track the bridge since he was first elected in November 2022.

Tyers local, Fel Foki described her thoughts and feelings on the saga, which looks to be over for good.

Ms Foki has lived in Tyers for around two years, and Tyers Rd closed soon after her family relocated to the area.

With five kids, the Fokis had multiple issues with the closure, as did many families, with implications and concerns arising from multiple avenues.

“At the start, I still thought it would be okay, I thought the bridge would reopen quickly – not realising the extent of the damage that the flooding had caused,” Ms Foki said.

“Weeks turned into months, then a lot longer – years, and it was frustrating to say the least.”

Tyers residents were faced with challenges for over a year, which included extended travel times, pressures with the cost of living – especially in a period where fuel prices were at an all-time high, and concerns for emergency service access.

“We have five kids that all play sport, go to school, have all their own commitments … and I’m sure there’s others in the community that were the same,” Ms Foki said.

“They did offer an alternative, so a specific Tyers shuttle bus, but the times that that ran – they tried their best to offer as much as they could, but it didn’t mimic what we (previously) had available.”

Having to detour to Glengarry as the next-best option to and from Traralgon, the same issue would be faced for emergency services in the event of a fire or medical episode.

“Obviously living out of town with lots of bushland, fires were always a risk for us, and we just hoped and prayed that nobody needed immediate medical attention because we’d have to wait at least 20 minutes for someone to arrive,” Ms Foki reiterated.

Ms Foki mentioned her eight-minute trip to drop her kids off at school turned into a 20 to 25-minute trip, and busses were no alternative with none regularly running through the town.

“If they forgot something and I was not able to deliver it to them then they’d just have to go without it for the day,” she said.

Having to drive extra kilometres comes with added pressures financially, especially amid high fuel prices which put pressure on many families across the state alone.

Luckily, Tyers residents weren’t completely left in the dark, as once the wheels for the rebuild of the bridge were in motion, they were given constant updates from Regional Roads Victoria up until the reopening.

“They supplied timelines for us, and we all watched that pretty closely to make sure the project was still running on schedule,” Ms Foki said.

Fast-forward to December 2023, four days before Christmas – and the community rejoiced with the reopening of Tyers Road to and from Traralgon.

“It was very, very welcomed, and I believe quite a few of us did trips across the bridge unnecessarily because we could,” Ms Foki said.

“Even at the reduced speed limit, I think we’re all pretty grateful to have it open and have some quick access back to the town.”

The town of Tyers can now breathe easy knowing that Traralgon is back to a 10-minute drive away, saving families money on fuel, bringing families closer together and allowing safe access for emergency services.

Crews will be back onsite during 2024 to complete the final pieces of work, including safety barrier installation, line marking and signage.

The speed limit will return to 80km/h once these works are completed.