North Haven resident Noel Hiffernan alleges access to Stingray Creek Bridge is "discriminatory"

North Haven resident Noel Hiffernan said the gradient of the pathway on the River Street side of the bridge is too steep.
North Haven resident Noel Hiffernan said the gradient of the pathway on the River Street side of the bridge is too steep.

A steep pathway slope, lack of hand railing and blind spots on main roads have prompted a North Haven resident to label accessibility to Stingray Creek Bridge as "dangerous and discriminatory".

Stingray Creek Bridge links the towns of Laurieton and North Haven. The new bridge opened to the public on February 10, 2017.

Mr Hiffernan can't use the pathway on the River Street side of the bridge, as the gradient of the pathway is too steep.

By only using one side of the bridge, he said he is forced to cross busy roads, which also have blind spots due to signage.

Mr Hiffernan is calling for either a mechanical lifting device for the south side of the bridge, or handrails on the north side of the bridge to make the bridge accessible for everyone.

He said a proper pedestrian crossing on the west side (Laurieton) of the bridge is also vital.

Mr Hiffernan has been in a wheelchair since 1971. He has been a member and chaired a number of committees associated with access since the 1980s.

He grew up in Dunbogan, before moving away and returned to the Camden Haven three years ago.

Mr Hiffernan has advocated for access for majority of his life and said it's disappointing to come back to his home location only to discover it doesn't accommodate for everyone.

The northern foot way has been built to the standard of 1:14. However Mr Hiffernan said while it might abide to code it's still "not best practice".

Mr Hiffernan lodged a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission, alleging disability discrimination over pedestrian access to Stingray Creek Bridge.

Council commissioned an independent Access Report to investigate the accessibility of the bridge in response to Mr Hiffernan's complaint.

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council director Jeffery Sharp said council has ensured Stingray Creek Bridge provides continued equitable access for the community.

"The bridge and associated works have previously been independently assessed and considered to meet accessibility requirements," he said.

"In consultation with the PMHC Access Sub-committee, additional minor improvements have been made to further improve accessibility."

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