Toodyay footbridge reopened after more than 12 months of closure

After more than 12 months of being closed due to safety concerns, the Toodyay Duke Street Bridge is open to the public.

Safety concerns were raised by ARC Infrastructure last year, which led to long discussions between the Shire of Toodyay and the Pubic Transport Authority (PTA) on which party was responsible for the upkeep of the pedestrian bridge.

As reported in the Avon Valley and Wheatbelt Advocate in July this year, the two parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to upgrade the footbridge.

Speaking in July, former Shire of Toodyay president Brian Rayner said works to reopen the bridge would commence in September, to be complete within two months.

"The Shire of Toodyay council passed a resolution for an MOU between the Public Transport Authority and the Shire, to take ownership of the Duke Street Footbridge on the completion of works," Mr Rayner said.

"Council had already committed $18,000 to the project for footpaths leading to and from the bridge and some railing and barrier fencing.

"At the ordinary council meeting a further $38,000 for a complete replacement of the decking on the bridge (was committed).

"PTA believes only 5 per cent of the decking required to be replaced.

"Council's view was to replace all the decking rather then return to the project in a couple of years for a refit.

"Council will commit to the project a total of $56,000.

"Hopefully the Duke Street Footbridge will be reopen prior to Christmas."

The decision follows disagreement between the two parties on who had responsibility of the bridge.

In August 2018, Mr Rayner called on WA transport minister Rita Saffioti to repair or replace the Toodyay Footbridge.

Mr Rayner had hit out at the Public Transport Authority, saying the decision to close the footbridge was "poor public policy".

He said the move was "an abdication of responsibility by the state government."

"Toodyay is split in two by the standard gauge railway, which carries all rail freight between Perth and eastern Australia," Mr Rayner said in August 2018.

"Toodyay's elderly and disabled residents are being asked to take their chances with an uncontrolled level crossing between these behemoths."

Mr Rayner said he contested the PTA's claims that under the Public Works Act the bridge should always have been the responsibility of the Shire of Toodyay.

"It would have been had it ever been handed over - it wasn't," he said.

"In that other great policy disaster there was an agreement between Brookfield and the PTA that the PTA would continue to maintain the bridge.

"Somehow that agreement was forgotten."

In a back-flip decision, the state government announced it would fund a $145,000 upgrade of the bridge.

The Shire of Toodyay now has responsibility of the footbridge and its maintenance.

In a statement, the shire acknowledged the support of local members of parliament and PTA staff who helped reopen the bridge.