A routine inspection by Council Asset Inspectors revealed termite damage to the Toolamba Bridge. Just prior to the Christmas break a Level 3 inspection was carried out to determine the extent of the damage caused by termites, and to assess the overall bridge condition. The bridge was closed for safety reasons. This closure was communicated to the community through local media outlets and traffic signage. Since then the asphalt seal has been removed from the underlying decking to reveal the full extent of the damage. The 100 year old bridge has many structural and non-compliant components impacting on its load capacity and safety.
On Monday 30 January 2017, Council officers held a Community Information Session at the Toolamba Community Centre. Approximately 100 residents attended this session.
Residents were informed that damage to the decking is more significant than originally anticipated with 390 linear metres of hardwood to be replaced. Council is having difficulty sourcing the right hardwood that is available immediately. At this stage it is anticipated that the supply of the timber will take between 8 to 10 weeks. Council Officers are continuing to contact various national suppliers for other options.
The cost for the supply of materials and immediate repairs to decking and cross beams will be about $60,000 and works are expected to take 10 weeks after which the bridge can be re-opened with a reduced weight limit.
Some community members voiced concerns over the revised traffic conditions, however the majority of those in attendance were pleased that the bridge would be reopened as soon as practically possible, noting that these repairs are only temporary. It is intended that more permanent repairs will be undertaken in the 2017/18 financial year subject to funding and the sourcing of a suitably qualified and experienced contractor to undertake the works.
Council officers advised that changes to the traffic conditions will be well communicated to the community through road signage and local media outlets. Local community members were encouraged to report anyone risking their safety and failing to adhere to the revised restrictions to the Police or Council.
Where to from here?
Once temporary repairs are complete, Council intends to tender the more permanent repair works to replace the failed and deteriorated components and bring the bridge to a more acceptable standard. It is intended that tenders will be released mid - 2017 and it is planned for work to commence late 2017 or early 2018.
The remaining repair works are estimated to cost approximately $500,000. It is expected that these more permanent repairs will extend the useful life of the bridge for a further 10 - 15 years - a longer term solution will be considered by Council which may require the construction of a new bridge.
Residents were informed that the Toolamba Bridge is listed in the Council 10 Year Capital Works Plan. Council officers will strengthen the case for receiving government funding by conducting traffic studies in the area.
Design work for a new bridge will take place over the next three to five years with a view to construct in 10 years’ time. In the interim, Council Officers will contact VicRoads to discuss improved signage to advise those travelling from Melbourne on the Goulburn Valley Highway of the bridge closure. Council will also arrange to inform Arcadia residents of the closure by letter drop and media release.
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