Done and dusted
Saturday, 10th March, 2012
By Erica Visser
The Barrier Highway was reopened yesterday after a detour road around the collapsed bridge at Pine Creek was completed in just two days.
The bridge, just past Cockburn, collapsed last week in heavy rain and was not due to reopen until the end of next week, according to the South Australian Government.
It had ordered a temporary bridge from Queensland but cancelled it after local contractor Steve Radford offered a much quicker solution.
Mr Radford met SA Road and Traffic Management on site on Wednesday and began work at 3pm that day.
The detour road was completed in the proposed 48 hours and is now open to all vehicles excluding those with a wide load.
“We sourced some plant equipment and sourced some second hand steel pipe which was kindly donated by Perilya,” Mr Radford said.
“Then we cleared the mud and set out to install the pipes. Yesterday we put road base over the top.
“The last few nights we’ve finished late. Last night we stopped work at 11 o’clock to get it done.”
The SA Road and Traffic Management set up signs yesterday announcing that the dual road was open.
Its director, Paul Gelston, said that he was relieved the highway was finally open.
“The 48 hours was always a number which was nominated by the media but we’re most impressed with the work by the contractor in question,” Mr Gelston said.
He said the quick fix for the highway would remain in place until the bridge was replaced.
“Our designers are looking at a solution for the bridge now and once that design is finished, that might take months,” Mr Gelston said.
The inconvenience to trucks with wide loads that still have to take the long route via Mildura was not the main concern, he said.
“Whether those were even able to use the bridge beforehand I don’t know.
“Our priority has always been to get the Barrier Highway open.”
Mr Gelston also said that the bridge had not failed because of a lack of maintenance.
“People would know there was significant rainfall last week so it was a risk,” he said.
“This bridge was built in 1939 and had extra work in 1961 and there was damage in 1997 and there was some further damage in late 2009 which was repaired in 2010 .”
Local MP John Williams said that he had urged the SA Roads Minister to accept Mr Radford’s offer but was still worried about big trucks not being able to get through.
“The biggest problem has been that those trucks that are servicing Broken Hill have to go through Mildura. It’s absolutely crazy,” Mr Williams said.
“On occasions (wide load vehicles) will use the bridge but primarily this will cover 99 per cent of the traffic.
“This is an urgent matter and the bridge should be fixed ASAP and there’s clear evidence in how much the Barrier Highway is used in the amount of traffic on the Silver City Highway last week. It was choc-a-block.”
Mr Williams said the temporary road was a good short-term solution.
“I think that if they started to build the new bridge now, if they ensured it wasn’t a temporary replacement, it will probably take a while,” he said.
“The road should hold, assuming it isn’t compromised by more rain.”