The famous Lions Rd on the Queensland-NSW border has reopened after 18 months of bridgeworks, but it will never be suitable for a Lions TT, say Kyogle Council representatives.
The official launch of the bridgework was held this week and the road is again suitable for all types of motorcycles. One small patch of gravel either side of the most northern new bridge is expected to be sealed this week.
Council spokesman Tony Lickis says some patch roadworks will continue from time to time, but they will never reseal the whole road to make it race-track smooth.
Lions TT event
The Lions TT event began in 2014 with non-timed rides on a closed section of the road, but it was shut down after the third crash of the weekend.
It returned in 2015 in a revised format with no road closure, skipped 2016 and was cancelled last year because the road was closed for bridgework.
Council GM Graham Kennett says he would love the Lions TT and associated Kyogle Motorcycle Festival to return, but he has not yet spoken with the organisers.
We have also tried to contact the organisers, but they have not replied.
Tony says he doubts the TT would return in its old form, anyway.
“It is our understanding they do not currently have police support for the event, due to issues in the past and the remoteness of the upper sections of the Lions road to first responders,” he says.
Tony believes the event’s name gave the wrong impression that it was a timed trial.
“It should have been called the Lions Rd Cruise or something like that,” he says.
In its current form, the Lions Rd is certainly not suitable for racing or even rapid progress as it passes through a family campground and has a very bumpy surface in places.
Six wooden bridges on the road have been replaced with concrete structures with no load limits at a cost of $6.8m including $1.9m from the Federal Government’s bridge renewal program. The Kyogle Lions Club also collects donations which they give to Council to improve the road.
There are still two wooden bridges remaining, but they are flood-proof and have no load limits.
Graham says the new bridges include two innovative construction methods.
The most northern of the new bridges is a single-span, steel-truss Bailey Bridge as used by the Australian Defence Forces, but is a permanent structure, not temporary.
Graham says the other bridges use lightweight fibre polymer (plastic) girders which makes them easier to build in places where access is difficult for heavy plant equipment.
Heavier vehicles are expected to use the road, rather than taking the long way along the Summerland Way and Mt Lindesay Highway, now that all bridges along the length of the Lions Rd and Grady’s Creek Rd now have no load limit.
However, there is still a height restriction on the viaducts that prevent access for high-mass semi-trailers.
The road used to cater for about 600 vehicles a day and council is collecting data to see how many use the road now that it is suitable for heavier vehicles.
Tony says there will be no more bridgeworks until the remaining timber bridges come to the end of their lives. Council does not expect this for some time.
There is no change to the speed limit along the road.
Longtime Lions Rd rider Hilton Martin of Ballina says there is a “big improvement on the bridges.
“Obviously the approaches are safer,” says Hilton who has been riding the road since before it was fully sealed about a dozen years ago.
“Being wider offers more visibility, smoother, no more treacherous timber, no single lane.
“Still needs ‘cats eyes’ or painted broken lines on all corners.”