Hikers get alerts when overpass construction causes road to close – and ‘beaver does, too’

Hikers get alerts when overpass construction causes road to close – and ‘beaver does, too’

Hikers get alerts when overpass construction causes road to close – and ‘beaver does, too’

“HAZ-MAT!” yells a hiker, posing a sand-filled plastic container placed by police officers along the West Shore Trail as one of the most unusual trail closures around, at least among first-time hikers.

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But the incident is not a hazard or violence – it’s a bit of fun by police, who have posted signs along the trail warning that tarps are being wrapped up in preparation for an overpass construction project that was put on hold a decade ago.

After 10 years of planning, the $33m earmarked for the overpass over the Margaret River waters last year was approved by the federal government.

But, having won the funding, Metrolinx still hasn’t found a way to proceed. As part of a plan to remove the highway over the Margaret River sound from Antelope Dam downstream to Alkimos Dam downstream, a smaller overpass is to be built and a new highway, with a second span at Alkimos Dam, will be built to replace the existing.

To this end, officials in South Australia had included a signage program along the trail where bridge construction could take place.

The overpass over the Margaret River sounds, Australia. Photograph: Alamy

“Unfortunately due to the construction of the current bridge, approval for the site for permit infrastructure has been withdrawn,” Metrolinx said in a statement.

The council in the town of Antelope, which has been left worse off by the project as a result, was also underwhelmed. “I don’t know how the Trail Safety signs even got approved in the first place,” council president Leo Denba said.

That prompted Antelope to take action. “Antelope is sad that their valuable revenue generated from the Trail Safety Advisory Board has now disappeared,” council president Leo Denba said.

Antelope council president Leo Denba. Photograph: Ashley Bolt/AAP

The council then solicited the help of police to give the trail closure a face: holding a series of stunt pipe fittings along the West Shore Trail “to warn people that the trail has been closed, but before it does so for good”.

“It will be a very long walk for local patrons of the popular trail during construction,” Denba said.

“This is why we placed multiple ‘hazardous materials’ in the trail for them to see. We just hope it gets their attention for them to try to get this project dealt with as soon as possible.”

In an email, Metrolinx said the design of the overpass is “far from final” and work will be delayed as a result of recent flooding in Adelaide.

The flow of money from the federal government for the project stalled earlier this year after the Public Works Department told the council it had no money available for the project. According to local media, Councillor Paul Rowan raised concerns about the plan at a public meeting with the federal public works department last month.

The public works department, from which the overpass construction funding had come in 2014, provided an email to the Adelaide Advertiser which referred to “the closure of the Margaret River bridge and the Antelope Creek Overland road on the West Shore Trail”.

“In the interest of security, this road closure remains in place until better security measures have been implemented on the West Shore Trail. Working in close co-operation with the City of Margaret River, our preference is to reopen this access as soon as possible.”

The closure had originally been set to end at the end of October, according to the Advertiser.

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