Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) director customer and compliance, Peter Wells, has announced two companies will pay compensation for a crash which brought down the Maitland pedestrian bridge in 2009.
“This is the first time in Australia a road compensation order has been issued against parties in the chain of responsibility,” Wells said.
RMS launched the prosecution against all parties in the chain following the pedestrian footbridge collapse that was caused by an overheight heavy vehicle carrying machinery in 2009.
“It was only luck which prevented a more tragic outcome; the pedestrian bridge, which crosses a busy road, is used extensively by school children on a regular basis,” Wells added. “RMS welcomes the outcome of this important case as it sends a strong message to the entire heavy vehicle industry that damaging the state’s infrastructure comes at a cost.
“All parties in the chain of responsibility need to be aware of their responsibilities whether they are a loader, scheduler, driver, owner, consignor or consignee.
“All loads must meet weight and dimension specifications before the truck heads out on to the road. If they do not, RMS will hold all those in the chain responsible.
“This is about everyone in the chain of responsibility doing the right thing and taking reasonable steps to ensure loads meet the regulations.
The heavy vehicle operator was ordered to pay $1 million in compensation and was fined $16,500 by the court while Rapid Access Australia was ordered to pay $400,000 and was fined $8250.
“The Supreme Court found the consignee Rapid Access Australia and the heavy vehicle operator, Griffiths Garage, guilty of dimension breaches and ordered them to pay most of the cost of replacing the bridge.
“The penalties imposed were at the higher end of the scale indicating the court strongly supports action which improves road safety for all road users.
“The judge, in summing up the case, also made comments on the thoroughness of the RMS investigation, including the volume of the evidence presented to the court.
“This is great news for the local community and residents of NSW in general. The compensation order means the cost of repairing the bridge will be reimbursed so only those responsible for the damage will be out of pocket,” Wells concluded.