Bridge network over loaded

7 June 2018 - Media release

Campaspe Shire Council is progressing a bridge inspection program with a specialist structural engineer assessing the structure and integrity of all council-owned bridges.

Mayor, Cr Adrian Weston said Campaspe Shire is in an unusual position of owning 64 bridges, with 52 per cent constructed prior to 1976.

“Prior to 1976 bridges were designed to carry loads of 33 tonnes, with today’s bridges designed to carry loads of 160 tonnes,” Cr Weston said.

“Modern trucks and commercial vehicles have increased in size and weight over the years, stressing older bridges beyond their capacity. In recent years design guidelines have changed to address the structural needs and materials have improved to support structural demands.”

Of the 64 bridges across the shire:

  • 52 per cent constructed prior to 1976, designed to carry 33 tonnes
  • 17 per cent constructed between 1976 and 2001, designed to carry 44 tonnes
  • 31 per cent constructed after 2001, designed to carry 160 tonnes

Bridges generally have a life span of around 80-100 years, however the increased traffic demand and increased load above design capacity is now starting to severely affect the bridge network. The design load is the maximum possible load the bridge can carry when newly built. As the bridge ages along with ongoing use, the load limit decreases.

“Evidence shows that many bridges are carrying trucks and commercial vehicles above their designed limits on a daily basis,” Cr Weston said.

“This has resulted in load limits placed on a number of bridges to date, however as further structural assessments are completed it is evident there will be many more to come.”

“A bridge replacement can cost anywhere from $350,000 to $2 million. Council does not have the funds to upgrade or replace 69 per cent of the bridge network today, nor will it have the funds in the future,” Cr Weston said.

“We must take action now or face many of our bridges closing, which will not only affect larger transport users, but the wider community for regular vehicle access.”

“We need to look at the overall road and bridge network and focus on ensuring the major transport routes are maintained.”

As load limit signage is placed on a number of bridges across the shire, council is now urging the community to adhere to the restrictions to ensure their local network remains open and accessible.

Restrictions have recently been placed on:

  • Groves Bridge, located to the south east of Colbinabbin crossing the Wanalta Creek, 12 tonne limit
  • Floodway Bridge, near Stanhope at the corner of Carag Road, single axle 6 tonne, tandem axel 16.5 tonne, tri-axle 20 tonne

“If we ignore restrictions, bridges will eventually close temporarily or permanently and we want to avoid this,” the Mayor added.

Load limits are enforceable by law and must be obeyed. Failure to do so many result in penalties including fines.

As load restrictions are placed on bridges across the shire the local community along with local businesses, emergency services and transport groups will be notified.