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Frenchmans Creek Bridge

Project Overview

Since 2011, the Department of Transport and Main Roads, Queensland (TMR) has been actively investigating the facilitation of Type 1 Road Train access between Central Queensland Livestock Exchange (CQLX) at Gracemere, west of Rockhampton, and the two abattoirs in North Rockhampton, initiating the Rockhampton Road Network – Road Train Access Upgrade project.

In 2017, SMEC was engaged as engineering consultant in collaboration with Harrison Infrastructure Group (HIG) to assess the 24km route and identify and address deficiencies to allow continued Type 1 Road Train access to the northern abattoirs.

One of the key shortcomings identified was the existing road bridge over Frenchmans Creek, did not have adequate structural capacity to facilitate continued Type 1 Road Train access along the route into the future. It was determined that replacement of the bridge would be required.

SMEC was commissioned by TMR as the lead consultant to deliver the preliminary and detailed design of the replacement of Frenchmans Creek Bridge, with demolition and construction works to be undertaken whilst limiting the bridge closure to only a single 60-hour window for a two-stage construction program. This was then revised, as TMR decided to extend the closure to 72-hours to complete the entire project in one stage rather than two.

What is a Type 1 Road Train?

In Australia, the ‘Road Train’ is an essential part of the long-haul transport of goods including food, livestock and materials.A ‘Type 1 Road Train’ in Queensland is a large, rigid hauling truck towing trailers up to a maximum length of 36.5 metres.

Our Role

There were significant constraints for the project; no suitable diversion route and inadequate space on the highly constrained site to facilitate a temporary side-track during construction. These constraints meant that the bridge could not be replaced using standard demolition and construction methodology without taking the whole route offline for several months. Being a key transport route, this was not a viable option as it would significantly impact the supply chain of essential food items.

SMEC proposed to replace the road bridge within a short 60-hour road closure period which was then extended to 72-hours to complete the entire replacement in one stage rather than two. This was supported by three innovative solutions; a one-of-a-kind deck unit, fast curing grout systems in line with the latest technologies and a bespoke mix design developed to respond to site constraints.

The innovative approach included:

  • Minimum disruption and impact to existing assets within and adjacent to the bridge footprint including third-party services, adjacent Queensland Rail bridge and private property;
  • Improved construction safety by reduced in-situ construction in and around waterways and adjacent to live traffic;
  • Introduction of latest technology in fast-curing material to minimise construction duration;
  • Introduction of an innovative triple-hollow deck bridge system to the industry;
  • Introduction of a bespoke concrete mix design to suit project constraints.

Through meticulous planning and collaboration with TMR the Frenchmans Creek bridge was successfully replaced within the 72-hours of road closure. An exceptional outcome which has delivered a structure which will support local industry and regional growth.

SMEC’s design for the replacement Frenchmans Creek Bridge provides a framework for future design solutions to allow replacement of structurally deficient bridges along key transport routes with similar constraints.

This project was recognised as a Finalist ‘Innovative Design’ in the 2020 Consult Australia Awards.

Queensland, Australia
Technical Area:
Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads

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