New Bridgewater Bridge progress: temporary bridge works

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If you have travelled to or from Tasmania's capital, Hobart, recently, you would have seen the remarkable engineering feat that is underway – the construction of The New Bridgewater Bridge.

Before this major infrastructure project could begin, a temporary bridge needed to be constructed. This structure marks a crucial milestone in the journey towards building the new, permanent Bridgewater Bridge, a project that promises to transform Tasmania's transportation infrastructure.

BridgePro worked with main contractor McConnell Dowell providing constructability input into the innovative design of the Temporary Bridgewater Bridge, such as advanced construction techniques to maximise operational efficiency and ensure the project timeline was met. As with any project of this significance, a great deal of planning was required – to ensure the longest pile could be pitched with enough capacity to lift heavy items and not be affected by high wind speeds (commonly experienced on the River Derwent), the optimal boom length needed to be determined.

BridgePro Engineering has played a vital role in the construction of this temporary bridge. Efficiencies such as the use of prestressed concrete deck panels in lieu of traditional reinforced concrete, meant that in combination with our in-house concrete strength testing facilities, we could produce a higher number of panels than traditional reinforced concrete. The BPE team cast these prestressed concrete deck panels and fabricated the steel girders from our HQ in Latrobe.

It's important to note that the headstocks and piles were made available from external suppliers, exemplifying the collaborative efforts of multiple stakeholders contributing to the project's success.

At approximately 360 meters in length, the Temporary Bridgewater Bridge ranks as the fifth longest bridge in Tasmania, showcasing its significant scale and impact on regional infrastructure. (To save you a Google search, the Tasman Bridge is our longest bridge at 1,417 metres.)

The southern portion of the Temporary Bridgewater Bridge consists of twelve large barges, each spanning up to 50 meters in length, interconnected end-to-end to create a robust foundation. These barges seamlessly extend to meet a steel bridge originating from the Bridgewater foreshore, serving as a vital connection point for construction activities spanning the river.

Despite facing obstacles such as navigating low clearance at the bridge's southern end and adapting to tidal shifts, this project persevered on schedule, owing to the meticulous planning and unwavering commitment of the construction and procurement teams.

A standout feature of this temporary bridge is its capacity to accommodate vessels under 2.2 meters on an average tide without requiring the lifting span to be opened, ensuring minimal disruption to maritime traffic during the construction phase.

This project is not just about infrastructure; it's about empowering communities. The project supports 250 direct jobs and an additional 800 indirect jobs, focusing on inclusivity through initiatives like the Indigenous Participation Plan1 . Furthermore, the emphasis on skill development and training programs ensures that individuals new to the construction industry have opportunities to contribute and grow.

Looking ahead, the vision for the New Bridgewater Bridge is one of connectivity and progress. With a target completion date set for 2025, the project remains on track to deliver a modern, efficient infrastructure asset that will serve Tasmania's transportation needs for decades to come.

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BridgePro acknowledges the traditional owners of this island, and pays respects to all Tasmanian Aboriginal people past, present and future.