Bridge dream finally comes true

Structural engineer, Tony Baggio (centre) surrounded by jubilant South Golden Beach residents at the site of the Helen Street footbridge.
Structural engineer, Tony Baggio (centre) surrounded by jubilant South Golden Beach residents at the site of the Helen Street footbridge.
AFTER 14 years of hope, disappointment, hope and further disappointment, it looked like it was going to be a bridge too far.

But Byron Council’s decision last week to accept a tender for the construction of a footbridge across the Capricornia Canal at Helen Street, South Golden Beach, will see the long-held dream come true.

It was a decision greeted with jubilation by residents involved in the fight for the bridge – and tears in Sydney.

They came from Maggie Brown, who is temporarily based there and who was one of the leaders of the fight from day one.

“We were all in tears. It was just so great,” she said. “I can’t believe it after all these years.

“This will give families in the north of the shire a big boost, not least because they can see how council has listened to them and made good on promises and that is good for all of us.”

While the project has had the support of councils since the idea was first mooted, money to fund it has been the consistent sticking point.

Three years ago, it looked like the bridge plan was dead and buried when tenders came in between $900,000 and $1.2 million – well outside the council’s budget.

It was then that Myocum resident and structural engineer Tony Baggio and fellow structural engineer Ross Harding stepped into the picture.

They donated their time to come up with a bridge design that could match the council’s $600,000 budget for the job.

Maggie Brown believes that without Tony Baggio’s determination and dogged approach, the bridge project would have died.

“Tony Baggio is the absolute lynchpin,” she said.

“If we didn’t have him, we wouldn’t have a project.”

Angela Dunlop, a community spokesperson for the bridge project said the need for the bridge had become more urgent over time with the increase in population in the communities of South Golden Beach and North Ocean Shores.

She might not have been there for the final decision, but it’s fairly certain nothing will keep Maggie Brown away from the offical opening.

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