THE Latrobe River Bridge that connects Tyers to Traralgon has suffered another setback, and must be rectified to finalise the project.

The bridge reopened at the end of last year, after being closed for more than 12 months, forcing Tyers residents to divert through Morwell or more popularly – Glengarry – to get to Traralgon, and vice versa.

For two months, Tyers residents coming into Traralgon saw no work, despite an announcement that the guardrails would be completed in February 2024.

A revised completion date for this month was set by the Minister for Roads, Melissa Horne, weather permitting, as works resumed during mid-to-late May.

Tyers Road remains open at this stage, however, it was shut momentarily due to flooding at the start of the year, and the speed limit reduced to 40km/h while works continued on the bridge.

The 40km/h speed limit still remains, but Tyers Rd will return to 80km/h once completed, according to Regional Roads Victoria (RRV).

Member for Morwell, Martin Cameron, spoke on the matter, which was published recently in the Express.

“Residents had raised concerns with my office about the integrity of the bridge, with many reporting cracks along the road and kerb,” he said.

“I shared these reports with the Minister (Melissa Horne) while requesting an explanation about why works had stalled, and they’ve been proven valid.

“It’s concerning that the new bridge has been open for just five months (now six months) and is already requiring rectification works.”

However, for residents, especially those from Tyers – they don’t know what to believe in terms of a true completion date.

After countless setbacks from the delay of the rebuild, to the most recent delays from flooding, to now with rectification treatment, Tyers residents fear they will once again have to deal with an unplanned closure.

Tyers resident, Monica MacGregor, spoke to the Express about the ongoing frustrations that the Latrobe River Bridge upgrade had caused.

Ms MacGregor tried to get in touch with RRV to no response, before deciding to approach Mr Cameron via email, letting him know that no work was being done to the bridge.

During that time, RRV sent an email to those on the specific list, mentioning that works would resume and be completed by May this year.

“I think the main concern was, ‘Why to 40km/h?’ It’s 40km/h because the concrete barriers are there and it narrows the road – that’s fine, but some people are frustrated,” Ms MacGregor said.

“When I could drive into town (Traralgon) in seven minutes, I was beside myself, like I was in and out. It didn’t bother me, but there were a lot of people that were in uproar.”

Ms MacGregor mentioned that when speaking to Tyers residents, a rumour began to circulate that RRV and the contractor had abandoned the bridge altogether, which turned out to be false.

After it was discovered that rectification works were required to complete the bridge, Tyers residents were once again notified by RRV that the expected completion date was pushed further back until June.

“It won’t be the end of June,” Ms MacGregor said, as she fears that winter weather will come into play to cause another setback.

Ms MacGregor compared the Latrobe River Bridge works to that of the Fitzroy River Bridge completed in Western Australia.

During those works, the plans and rebuilding of the bridge was completed within a calendar year, while Tyers residents have had to wait close to a decade since the proposed plans came to light in 2015.

“We’re very, very grateful that the bridge is open, it saves so much time coming in and out. The 40km/h (speed limit) is a pain in the ass, it’s not like it’s a busy, busy road… but there is some people that will kick up a stink about it,” Ms MacGregor said.

“We used to get a timeline every four weeks, and get an update which would say ‘We’re here now’, and it was always February 2024 that is was going to be completed.

“When they (RRV) wrote ‘anticipated June 2024’, we just looked at that and said ‘No way’, because they will not say for sure when it’s going to fully open.

“It’s an inconvenience of not being finished more than a time inconvenience.”

Some Tyers residents worried that if the bridge shuts again, they may move to Traralgon, just to avoid the 20-minute trip via Glengarry, which doubled the usual 10-or-so-minute trip to Traralgon when the Latrobe River Bridge was in operation.

The chance of a potential closure again still lingers in the mind of Tyers residents, but they still hold out hope the saga is coming to an end soon enough.