Fed up by government foot-dragging on the project, an Australian politician says he will paint a local bridge himself—with help from his constituents, if necessary.
"There's been quite a strong public support for it, and I've had offers of people wanting to help paint it and also offers for people to help pay for the paint,” Ivan Venning, a Liberal Member of Parliament from South Australia, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC).
|Opposition politician Ivan Venning fought unsuccessfully to get another bridge painted several years ago, when the paint peeled down to bare metal, but he lost that battle.|
Venning, 66, said the town of Nuriootpa in the Barossa Valley in South Australia had been waiting years for one of its road bridges to be painted.
“I'm still hoping the Government will step in and do it before I do, but otherwise as soon as it warms up, we'll be doing it.”
‘I Would Look Like a Real Squib’
Venning said the structure had been inspected recently and found to be “a good sound bridge” but was “very drab and unpleasant looking.”
“We know what the original colors were, and I presume we'll paint them the same,” he told the ABC.
"Without a doubt I'm going to do it, because I would look a real squib [coward] if I didn't."
|It’s “a good sound bridge” but “very drab and unpleasant looking,” laments Ivan Denning.|
The South Australian Government did not prohibit Venning from doing the project but said he “would need to be mindful of the risks associated with old bridge paint and the potential presence of lead,” the ABC reported.
‘Bureaucracy Gone Mad’
Venning has taken a similar stand before. In 2009, he appealed for local government to repaint another local bridge that was flaking paint down to bare metal. The local Council asked the state Department of Transport, Energy and Infrastructure to do the project, but the state said it no longer performed maintenance painting.
The agency also said the bridge’s steel handrails would have to be dismantled and shipped to another city for painting, because the bridge contained lead paint that would pollute the North Para River if the job was done on site, according to Venning’s web site. (No mention was made of containment.)
"I think that the everyday person would simply paint over the top,” said Venning, who estimated the job at a few hundred dollars. “This seems to me to be bureaucracy gone mad.
"I understand that to sandblast lead paint would be potentially damaging to the North Para River environment, but surely, common sense should prevail.
"I am sure that, if these costings were done, it would prove far more inexpensive for the bridge to have a new coat of paint, say, every 10 years, over the top of the existing paint than it would be to transport it to Adelaide, remove the lead paint (what remains of it, that is), paint it and then transport it back to Nuriootpa and fit it in place.
"Given the amount of revenue that the Barossa provides for the state government, surely it is not too much to ask.”
‘What Else Can You Do?’
In the end, that project was not funded and Venning did not offer to do it himself. This time, he says he will.
At least one constituent is dubious.
“Tell Ivan Venning to donate the paint and let the bridge at Nuriootpa get painted,” BarossaBob tweeted recently. “End of story and end of Venning on the front page.”
Venning conceded to ABC that there is an element of stunt to his claim, but he insists he is serious.
"I am, I know how to paint, I've done a fair bit, I've got all the gear, I own my own scissor lift," he told the news agency.
"There are four lamp posts on the bridge to get up.
"I'll check the legal part of this before I do this, because I don't want to break the law. It's probably not the normal thing you would do, but what else can you do when they [Government] just totally ignore you?"
He adds, unapologetically: "OK, maybe it's a gimmick, but at least at the end of it we'll get a painted bridge.”