STORM-DAMAGED bridges in the Great Otway National Park are to be replaced — but further bad weather has delayed the works.
Parks Victoria has been working towards constructing six new pedestrian bridges along three walking tracks in the park after severe storms rendered the original bridges no longer safe for visitors.
The $350,000 project to replace the bridges began in May thanks to funding from the state government.
It would have seen the installation of 10-16 metre-long steel bridges built in the park, with special design features to allow flood waters to flow through and over the bridges, preventing future damage.
But recent rains have halted plans to put in new bridges on the Sheoak, Kalimna and Hendersons Falls walking tracks, according to ranger-in-charge at Lorne Frank Gleeson.
“Wet weather has forced us to stop the works and keep the tracks closed,” Mr Gleeson said.
“With the extended rain we have received in the park this year the access tracks were being severely damaged, so we have had to call a halt on the works until the weather improves. We will continue to work where and when we can on the three Sheoak walking track bridges and hope to complete construction by early next month, although this could change with unfavourable weather conditions, making a track reopening time uncertain.”
While works on the Sheoak track can continue, the Kalimna and Henderson Falls tracks will remain closed for the foreseeable future.
It is anticipated the project will be completed in spring if the weather improves, Mr Gleeson explained.
“As anyone who works in construction knows, working in the wet is never easy,” he said. “We are aware that the tracks all lead off from the Sheoak picnic area which is one of the more popular visitor nodes around Lorne, but safety is our first priority and it is not safe for visitors to use the tracks in their current state.”
Parks Victoria staff have also warned visitors to be wary on the tracks that remain open, as the combination of rain and construction vehicles in the area had left deep ruts, mud patches and slippery conditions, particularly on the Phantom Falls track.
Further updated details about the condition of the tracks is available from Otways region visitor information centres.