Bridge concerns fall on deaf ears

Edward Versteeg is concerned about the condition of access ramps to the M4 bridges.
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The brakes seem to have been applied to community members that have raised accessibility concerns regarding the M4 pedestrian ramps across the Nepean River.

Locals say the ramps are extremely steep and pose a trip hazard for those walking or wheeling the Great River Walk.

Edward Versteeg, who is a wheelchair user, said he has noticed access issues surrounding the ramps since 2018 when he started to visit the location regularly.

“The Great Nepean River Walk is promoted as a ‘walk for all’ yet the vital link between river banks being the M4 Nepean River Bridge has approaches that are not suitable for wheelchair users,” Mr Versteeg said.

“The steep jagged uneven pavers impede easy access to use the bridge ramps mainly for wheelchair users and users with disabilities, but also able-bodied users, as it is a major trip hazard.”

Mr Versteeg and members of the Nepean River Walkers group contacted Penrith MP, Stuart Ayres who said he raised the concerns with Transport for NSW.

“I have asked them to assess the safety and accessibility of these ramps as a priority,” Mr Ayres said.

“I’d like to thank the people who raised this issue with me recently and those advocating for improvements.”

However, a Transport for NSW spokesperson seemed to indicate that any improvements to the long established ramps were not necessary.

“The new pedestrian and wheelchair friendly Yandhai Bridge near the Great Western Highway crossing has recently opened to assist people concerned about the grades,” the spokesperson said.

“This provides access to community facilities at River Road Reserve and depending on where you are travelling to, provides an alternative to the M4 bridge for people needing to cross the river and access Penrith.”

Mr Versteeg said only being able to access one side of the loop defeats the purpose and that he would continue to advocate for change.

“Currently a wheelchair user can not independently use the walk in its entirety because both Eastern and Western approaches to the M4 Nepean River Bridge are unacceptably steep,” he said.

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