Negotiations will begin as a step to enter into a contract for the Rawdon Island Bridge repair work.
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council considered the bridge repair contractor matter in the confidential session of its meeting on Wednesday [October 13].
Tenders will not be invited due to extenuating circumstances as any delay in the appointment of a contractor will result in an extension to the bridge access restrictions for Rawdon Island residents and businesses.
The council will negotiate with contractors recognised by the council with a view to enter into a contract for the Rawdon Island Bridge repairs.
The council noted its chief executive officer Dr Clare Allen, under existing delegations, may award a contract following successful negotiations and present a report to a council meeting on completion of the negotiation process for the council's information.
Meanwhile, a Rawdon Island Bridge update report went before the open session of the council meeting.
The bridge closed to traffic on July 5 as a safety measure after underwater inspections identified major structural issues with the pylons.
The span reopened to light vehicles under strict conditions on August 30 after being closed to traffic for eight weeks while structural investigations took place.
Live monitoring of bridge movement continues and a warning system is in place to close the bridge in the case of a flood or if overloaded.
The report said the timeline for bridge repairs remained on track with designs and construction specifications, environmental approvals and preconstruction planning and materials procurement expected to be completed by the end of October 2021.
Council anticipated "mobilisation" in early November, the report said, working towards completion of the key repairs by the end of 2021.
Construction activities could extend into 2022 due to the extent of the work.
Work continues on a contingency plan for a temporary alternative access crossing of Caswell Channel should significant repairs be required to reopen the bridge.
Deputy mayor Lisa Intemann said many acknowledgements had been made of the council staff but her acknowledgement was to the residents for their patience.
"It is hard to convey how difficult it must have been for people to have to literally wheelbarrow their purchases across the bridge and not to have access to the outside world except under very strict circumstances," she said.
Cr Intemann said the situation was so much better now.
Cr Sharon Griffiths said the bridge issue was completely unexpected and staff did an exceptional job in "pulling all this together".
The council asked the chief executive officer to ensure the incoming councillors were kept advised of progress of the bridge matter from the point of their election.
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