The Kindee suspension bridge's potential as a tourist attraction needs to be a focus as the council investigates replacement options.
That's the view of Wauchope Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Gary Rainbow.
Mr Rainbow is advocating for a new two-lane bridge to be built away from the existing structure.
He wants the suspension bridge to be retained as a walking bridge and promoted as a scenic tourist attraction to lure visitors to the hinterland with nearby Long Flat to act as a hub.
"Let's get it right and get the right approach [to a new bridge] that's away from the old bridge so it doesn't interfere with the atmosphere," Mr Rainbow said.
The suspension bridge will be 100-years-old in 2036.
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council is seeking community feedback on options to replace the Kindee bridge.
The suspension bridge, which is in poor condition, is expected to reach its "end of life" in the next 10 to 15 years.
The council explored 12 alternative route options. The options have been narrowed down to five for further detailed assessment.
Wauchope District Historical Society president Jeannette Rainbow recognises the suspension bridge's historical significance and tourism potential.
Mrs Rainbow would like to see the formation of a friends of Kindee bridge group to take responsibility and custodianship of the bridge into the future.
Kindee suspension bridge, a key link across the Hastings River, was built in 1936.
The steel was sourced from Newcastle and the timber was supplied locally.
A council fact sheet said the current condition of the bridge remained poor with several critical elements requiring rehabilitation.
Rehabilitation and repair of key structural elements is progressing, the fact sheet said.
But a new bridge will be needed down the track to continue to provide access across the Hastings River to the Kindee valley from the Oxley Highway, west of Long Flat.
The fact sheet said the council, in parallel with bridge replacement planning, will investigate heritage interpretation opportunities to showcase the cultural significance of the crossing and the importance to the community.
Kindee residents Wayne and Barbara Harris would also like the suspension bridge promoted as a tourist attraction.
Mr Harris said that would put more tourist money into the area.
The couple would like the suspension bridge kept in use as long as possible and then preserved into the future.
They favour a new high-level concrete bridge, as a replacement, out of the reach of floods.
The community can provide online feedback by May 20 to the council, attend a drop-in session at Ellenborough Hall from 4pm to 8pm on May 18 or make an appointment to talk to a council project officer at Wauchope Library between 9.30am and 5pm on May 19.
A report will be put forward to the council in mid-2021 to consider the next steps.
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