Jerrabomberra man James Hughes dies on Oallen Ford bridge near Nerriga in motorcycle crash

James Hughes died after an accident on the new Oallen Ford bridge, west of Nerriga on Sunday.The partner of a motorcyclist killed on the new Oallen Ford bridge on Sunday has blamed Goulburn Mulwaree Council for his death for failing to repair a pothole.
Nanjing Night Net

Jerrabomberra man James Hughes, 50, died after losing control on the new bridge, west of Nerriga, while riding from Canberra to the South Coast.

His partner Melissa Pearce said a pothole on the approach to the bridge contributed to his death.

“Police have shown me photographs of the pothole. He couldn’t have avoided it,” she said.

“It was so large, it was almost the width of the whole road.

“If he could have avoided the pothole he would have. James was a very good and experienced rider.”

She said at this stage police didn’t believe her partner of 3½ years was at fault.

“They don’t believe he was speeding. They don’t believe there was a rider error or that James contributed at all,” she said.

The $3 million Oallen Ford Bridge over the Shoalhaven River was opened on September 11.

Police said the accident happened on the western side of the new bridge.

Mr Hughes was riding east on Oallen Ford Road, when his motorbike veered to the northern side of the road and collided with the guardrail.

He was thrown from the bike, over the guardrail, and landed five metres below on the river bank.

Police said investigations into the accident were continuing but one line of inquiry was the road condition. A report was being prepared for the coroner.

Ms Pearce said she had lost her soul mate.

“I lost the love of my life, my soul mate. Because of a pothole,” she said.

“I’m devastated and I’m angry. This should not have happened.

“James should be here at home with me. He should not be dead.

“He’s dead because there was a pothole in the road that wasn’t fixed – it’s not fair and it’s not right.”

She has called for an inquest into his death.

“I really want a coronial inquest into why this happened and how it could have been prevented,” she said.

“I just don’t want a report which says he died from injuries sustained in an accident.

“I want an inquiry into why the road, just three weeks old, was in such a poor state of repair. Why was the surface breaking up after the amount of money that was spent on it? Potholes should be fixed.”

Goulburn Mulwaree general manager Warwick Bennett said council was aware of the pothole and was attempting to make repairs at the time of the accident.

“We had received complaints,” he said.

“We had no troubles with other sections of the road.”

As the matter was under police investigation, he said council would wait to see the police report before commenting further.

It is understood just hours after the crash on Sunday, the scene was cleared and road workers were at the site.

Meanwhile the speed limit on Nerriga Road at Corang Bridge has been reduced from Wednesday.

Monaro MP John Barilaro said Roads and Maritime Services carried out a review of the speed limit on the road as part of an ongoing speed zone review program after a request from the community and Palerang Council.

“A structural report prepared by council recommended reducing the speed limit on the bridge until council carries out work to improve its long term performance,” Mr Barilaro said.

The speed limit will be reduced from 100 km/h to 60 km/h along a 500 metre section about eight kilometres south of Oallen Ford Road to around 8.5 kilometres south of Oallen Ford Road at Corang.

South Coast Register

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