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It has been a postcard feature for decades but Victor Harbor's heritage-listed causeway to Granite Island is set to be replaced with a "concrete deck" and it has left some locals fuming.
The South Australian Government recently declared that the 150-year old causeway "was approaching the end of its useful life", despite having recently undertaken repair works so that one of the world's last remaining horse-drawn trams could continue to operate.
The Government plans to start building a new causeway out of concrete and steel by the end of the year, with its construction — and the removal of the old one — expected to be completed in late 2022 at a cost of $31.1 million.
Local history advocates Eli Bickley and his wife Kerryn Abbott-Bickley have launched a Save the Victor Causeway petition, which has been signed by nearly 2,500 since its launch last Wednesday.
"The Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure effectively want to raze the causeway to the ground, foregoing more than 150 years of history that's contributed to the state," Mr Bickley told ABC Radio Adelaide.
"But there's technology available that will let us completely rejuvenate and renew the existing causeway."
Heritage saved elsewhereMr Bickley said DPTI had managed to refurbish the Port River Rail Bridge without demolishing it, and also pointed to the Busselton Jetty in Western Australia, which was built around the same time as the Granite Island causeway.
The southern hemisphere's longest timber-piled jetty has since been refurbished and includes a jetty train and an underwater observatory.
"It's a major tourism drawcard," Mr Bickley said.
"They could have just tipped it into the sea like the Government's proposing to do here, but instead the community gathered together, organised a renovation, and it is an absolutely breathtaking facility.
"We could so something similar."
WA's Busselton Jetty was refurbished at a cost of $27.1 million in 2011.(Adam Taylor)'End of life'But DPTI spokesperson Paul Kermode said the Government had made its decision based on an assessment by engineers about the structure's safety.
He said emergency repair work was undertaken on the Granite Island causeway early last year because the structure had "deteriorated to a point where it was not safe for people to go on".
"As part of that, we did a condition assessment of the entire structure, which revealed that the causeway was reaching the end of its useful life," Mr Kermode said.
"It needed work to remediate it or to build a new one."
He said the new concept design, which would be put out to contractors, would include pedestrian access and a railway for the horse-drawn carriage.
"Having an element of the heritage and history is a message we received loud and clear," Mr Kemode said.
The popular horse and tram ferries tourists to and from the island via the causeway.(Brian Walker)Cruise ship passengersBut Mr Bickley said there had been a lot of "inconsistencies" in DPTI's messages about the size and location of the new causeway, suggesting it could be anywhere between six and eight metres wide, and up to 700 metres long.
The causeway is four metres wide and 630 metres long.
He has also heard suggestions the new causeway was being built to ferry passengers to and from cruise ships that will be berthed at Granite Island.
"It's sounding more and more like it's basically going to be the equivalent of the Northern Expressway going from Police Point over to Granite Island," Mr Bickley said.
"They've stipulated it will be a concrete deck and it will be steel pylons."
Mr Kermode said the design details of the structure "would be fleshed out" once a contactor was chosen.
"When we're able to, we'll have some more community information sessions and encourage people to be involved and give us their feedback," he said.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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