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Australia's last horse-drawn trams, which connect coastal South Australia to Granite Island, are cancelled for the second time in weeks because of fears they are too heavy for the deteriorating local pier.
For the second time this month, trams between Victor Harbor and Granite Island have been suspended because of safety concerns surrounding the 150-year-old causeway.
The horse-drawn tram service is the last of its kind in Australia and is popular with tourists who use it to make the 600-metre crossing between the mainland and the island, which is home to a colony of little penguins.
However, crossings were temporarily cancelled earlier this month after a pylon broke off and fell into the sea on New Year's Day.
The South Australian Government has now completed an audit of the wooden bridge and found deterioration in several other support piles.
Tram crossings have again been cancelled until repairs can be carried out early next month.
"This is a piece of infrastructure that sadly has been left to rot for a long period of time. What that report showed is that there are some further issues that we need to work through," Transport Minister Stephan Knoll said.
"We know that this is a difficult time, especially for the businesses on Granite Island. We've got to do everything we can to help support those businesses.
"But we have to take a cautious, safety first approach. We wouldn't want to see anything happen that hurts people as a result of part of this bridge failing."
Mr Knoll said pedestrians would still be able to use the causeway in the meantime, but said the trams were too heavy.
"While the affected piles are not adjacent to each other, the potential consequence of a failure of these piles has not yet been determined," he said.
The City of Victor Harbor has welcomed the decision for safety reasons but said it was "extremely disappointing" for local businesses at the height of the local summer tourism period.
"This could have a major impact on tourism operators and on the businesses in Victor Harbor because the tram is one of the major tourism attractions in Victor Harbor at this time [of year]," Mayor Moira Jenkins said.
"It's very beautiful but it is very old… the wear and tear is a lot worse than was first thought."
Dr Jenkins said the situation meant locals were now wondering if the entire bridge should be replaced.
"Do we maintain this causeway or are there other options? The community in Victor Harbor is already talking about whether or not we need another causeway to replace this one," she said.
The Government said it was already taking steps in that direction.
"We've already put out a tender for a complete redesign and overhaul of the causeway," Mr Knoll said.
"That's being done as quickly as possible especially in light of what we've received in recent days."
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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