The Barwon Heads Bridge, at the mouth of Barwon River, is an essential link in the road network of the Bellarine Peninsula.
The existing road bridge, originally built in 1927, is rapidly reaching the end of its operational life. The results of a 2006 bridge inspection gave the bridge four to six more working years. The inspection identified extensive deterioration of the concrete deck, rotting and splitting of timber, rotting and cracking of piles, walers and cross-bracing and rusting and pitting of the steel beams.
The load limit was reduced from 44 tonnes to 16 tonnes.
The bridge carries vehicle, pedestrian and bike traffic, and is also used for fishing. It is regarded by the local community as a landmark, and is known widely as featuring in the popular ABC series SeaChange. It is also listed on the Victorian Heritage Register and cannot simply be demolished and replaced.
The Victorian Government, through VicRoads, awarded McConnell Dowell the contract to provide the new crossing of the Barwon River at Barwon Heads/Ocean Grove.
The contract awarded to McConnell Dowell is for:
- construction in two stages of a road bridge in timber, steel and concrete;
- construction of a pedestrian bridge in concrete with timber cladding and later a timber deck;
- construction and later removal of temporary road connections to each end of the pedestrian bridge; and
- installation and later removal of safety barriers on each bridge to accommodate temporary user configurations in addition to permanent safety barriers.
Key milestones are:
- construction of the pedestrian bridge in its interim arrangement, construction of the southern portion of the road bridge with temporary barriers for vehicles and pedestrians and construction of road approaches to both bridges. Traffic is then diverted to these structures.
- dismantling of the existing bridge and construction of the remaining portion of the bridge;
- relocation of temporary pedestrian barriers on the road bridge and diversion of traffic onto this structure; and
- construction of timber decking, pedestrian barriers and lighting on the pedestrian bridge, the temporary barrier removed from the road bridge, the final asphalt pavement laid and final line marking placed.
The client undertook extensive community consultation prior to project award to select a design option that would be accepted by the local community. Heritage overlays have been applied to the project to ensure community expectations with regard to preservation of historic parts of the existing bridge are maintained, hence the preference for use of reclaimed timbers in the new bridge structure.
The Barwon Heads Bridge project website can be found at: http://www.barwonheadsbridge.com.au/