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The Forth River Rail Bridge will soon be owned by the ratepayers of the Central Coast Council.
The tussle over ownership of the bridge has been behind a lengthy delay in progress on the Coastal Pathway through the council's district.
TasRail, which is government-owned, wanted to gift the bridge to the council for the pathway project, but the council was concerned about the bridge's state of repair and the cost of maintaining it.
Mayor Jan Bonde said the council had finally agreed with TasRail to take on the ownership.
"We have been in negotiation and trying to find a way through because we didn't want to take ownership of bridge because of uncertainty about its life and the state of the piers.
"They've cleared out some of the rubble from under the bridge and are getting someone to do a study under the bridge.
SMOOTH RUN: Parts of the Coastal Pathway between Latrobe and Wynyard have already been built, and have had the thumbs up from locals enjoying a smooth, safe route. Picture: File photo
"We're waiting for a report on the condition of the piers and we're hopeful we will be able to take over the bridge and be able to start work later in the year."
Cr Bonde said the indications were that the bridge was solid and would have another 30 years because it would be carrying less weight without trains going over it.
"It probably has a lengthy life span, notwithstanding extreme weather events."
I think once work starts on the pathway, residents will believe it is happening.
CCC Mayor Jan Bonde
Changes to original route
Commenting on discussions over where the pathway would go after it crossed the river, Cr Bonde said the council was looking at rerouting so it didn't have to interfere with TasRail's infrastructure.
"The whole issue has probably delayed us a few years."
Cr Bonde said he public might not be able to believe it for a while.
Money set aside
"I think once work starts on the pathway, they will believe it is happening."
The council has put some money aside and will borrow to fund the new pathway design, which is now going right around to the underpass by the highway.
This article first appeared on www.theadvocate.com.au
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