Heritage-listed railway bridges to be restored

Hundreds of thousands of dollars will be spent on the restoration and repair of three 90-year-old bridges that once formed part of Perth's burgeoning eastern railway network but now pose a safety risk to walkers and cyclists.

Tenders for the restoration, repair and partial demolition of the bridges in John Forrest National Park were advertised last week in a project described by Environment Minister Albert Jacob as important.

"The work is needed because one of the three bridges has had to close due to the risk to park visitors," Mr Jacob said.

"The remaining two bridges need work to ensure they don't pose similar risks in the future."

The bridges were part of the rail line from Guildford to Mt Helena.

Jeff Austin, from Rail Heritage WA, said the original route that opened in 1884 was considered too steep and a deviation track was built through what became John Forrest National Park.

The deviation included bridges over Jane Brook and a 340m tunnel - the only railway tunnel built in WA - and was opened in 1896.

Mr Austin said the bridges were rebuilt in the 1920s but the original timber decking was still visible on at least one of them.

The line continued to be used until the Avon Valley route was opened in February 1966.

Mr Jacob said the track formed part of the Railway Reserves Heritage Trail, a popular walking and cycling track through the national park. The bridges were included on the State's heritage register in 2003.

"The aim of the project will be to ensure the heritage values of the bridges are preserved, along with those of WA's oldest national park," Mr Jacob said.

"This will mean an improved experience for visitors to the park, who will be able to better appreciate the significance of the railway.

"The project will see the bridges restored using a combination of traditional timber and more modern concrete components."

The West Australian

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