Delays in bridgework on the famed Lions Rd forced the cancellation of the Lions TT, but organisers plan to return in 2018 after a two-year hiatus.
Work began in January to replace six wooden bridges on the Queensland/NSW border road with concrete structures and scheduled completion by the end of June.
However, unseasonal wet weather has delayed the project and, so far, only two bridges have been completed.
Kyogle Council general manager Graham Kennett says the next three bridges are expected to be completed by December, with the last remaining bridge to be completed early 2018.
The updating of the bridges to concrete with no load limit has concerned riders that more trucks will use the popular motorcycling route and that the speed limit may be reduced when the work is completed.
Some trucks may decide to take the route, but it could be too steep for some. However, there are no plans at this stage to change the speed limit.
“There is no proposal for changes to any speed limits on the Gradys Creek or Lions Road,” Graham says.
Lions TT delays
He met with the Lions TT organisers who told him they would cancel this year’s event due to the bridge works.
“However, they did plan to hold an event in 2018,” he confirms.
“At this stage the details of this event have not been presented for consideration through the normal processes for such events.
“Council remains open to considering any event proposal put forward by the Lions TT organisation, however we are in no position to comment further until such time as a formal proposal is presented by the organisers.”
Lions TT history
The Lions TT Motorcycle Festival has had a chequered history since the first event in 2014 was cut short after crashes.
It was rained out in 2015 and then cancelled in 2016 and 2017.
“Meetings with Kyogle Council early this year has seen the successful formulation of strategies where LTT Directors & Team will be guided by the Council & Local Authorities to deliver your LLT safely in 2018,” their post says.
Lions TT board members Edward Profke, Mark Luxford and John Biggs last year told us they were working behind the scenes with lawyers to gain police approval for a road closure for the event.
Lions Rd closure
Edward told us the road closure for untimed rides across the border was the main attraction.
“The festival is not running (in 2016) because feedback from our founding members, sponsors and organisers was that without a road closure event the main attraction was gone,” he told us.
Queensland and NSW police have refused to close the road and a temporary closure in the 2014 event was only delivered at the last minute when council stepped in.
Queensland police say they will never support a closure as it encourages a large amount of motorcycle traffic right through the middle of a popular family camping ground.
We contacted the regional police in Lismore and Tweed Heads who said they would not be able to supply reasons for rejecting an application except to the applicant.
Organisers have put forward several ideas for the event including a recreational ride, a motorcycle festival in Kyogle, non-competitive drag races at Casino, escorted road and adventure rides, and even a hillclimb.
Edward says they are “unable to clarify” proposed dates or events at this stage.
“We are due to meet with council and authorities again soon where these specifics, amongst others, will be determined,” he says.
Critics have complained about having to pay to ride on roads they can ride for free.
Lions Rd “detour”
Meanwhile, signs pointing to a well-maintained gravel-road detour around bridge work on the southern side have been replaced with signs telling motorists to take the Summerland Way and Mt Lindesay Highway after complaints of dust and traffic from local residents.
When we asked Kyogle residents if the road was open, they suggested taking the non-official detour. However, that is for locals only.