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Tamavua-i-Wai bridge to remain restricted for another month

The Fiji Roads Authority has today made a decision to keep in place the lane restrictions and 18-tonne loads on Tamavua-i-Wai bridge for four more weeks. In a press conference, FRA’s Acting Chief Executive Officer Mr. Rory Garland said the decision was reached following detailed examination by Engineers after the discovery of a crack in […]

Nacanieli Tuilevuka

June 1, 2016 3:25 pm

The Fiji Roads Authority has today made a decision to keep in place the lane restrictions and 18-tonne loads on Tamavua-i-Wai bridge for four more weeks.

Fiji Roads Authority Rory Garland at a press conference yesterday. (Salote Qalubau/Newswire).
Fiji Roads Authority’s Acting CEO Mr. Rory Garland at a press conference. (Salote Qalubau/Newswire).

In a press conference, FRA’s Acting Chief Executive Officer Mr. Rory Garland said the decision was reached following detailed examination by Engineers after the discovery of a crack in one of the structural beams.

GARLAND: “On Monday morning we reported that FRA remained confident that the repair on the broken beam would be completed by Wednesday. This has happened and both lanes of the bridge are now properly supported.”

“We also reported last week that the engineers were undertaking further detailed inspections using a floating pontoon and cleaning equipment to get into the more difficult areas of the structure.”

Mr. Garland said the results of the detailed inspections was reported to FRA today.

Mr. Garland said although there are no further critical issues, the recommendation to FRA is that further strengthening work is required elsewhere in the bridge structure.

GARLAND:”If completed, this will enable the existing bridge to continue in service for another 5 years, when a replacement structure will have been constructed as part of FRA’s normal works programme.”

“We have been advised that these additional strengthening works will take 4 weeks. FRA has taken the decision to complete all the necessary repairs immediately. By doing this strengthening work now we will get at least another 5 years reliable use from this bridge. We will be able to return the bridge to normal use, accommodating two lanes of traffic and goods vehicles up to the legal limits.”

Mr. Garland said the option of a Bailey bridge was investigated and would take around six to eight weeks to install.

GARLAND: “We understand that the Tamavua-i-Wai Bridge was built in the 1960’s and was designed for use by vehicles within the current legal load limits. FRA’s interpretation of the regulations is that this restricts vehicles to 21.4 tonnes for a 10 wheeler, 26.8 tonnes for a 12 wheeler, and that no vehicle of any configuration should exceed 32 tonnes gross weight.”

A single lane of traffic restriction and the 18 tonne load limit is in place for the Tamavua-i-Wai bridge. (FRA)
A single lane of traffic restriction and the 18-tonne load limit is in place for the Tamavua-i-Wai bridge. (FRA)

Mr. Garland said that while undertaking the strengthening works, the single lane of traffic restriction and the 18-tonne load limit will need to stay in place and this is a precautionary measure for public safety reasons and will mean workers can safely get on with the job under the bridge.

GARLAND: “We understand that this is going to cause commuters and travellers considerable inconvenience with longer journey times. We would like to assure everyone that we will be working flat out to make sure that we keep on schedule and minimise the delays.”

Mr. Garland said FRA continues to advise people to avoid travelling on this section of road during peak periods if at all possible and that the traffic controllers will do their best to balance the priorities of inbound and outbound traffic to keep queue lengths under control.

Fiji Roads Authority (FRA) is still confident that the bridge can be reopened to two lanes of traffic tomorrow.

Following the early morning closure, the work platform is now in place and the contractor and engineers have access to the underside of the bridge to carry out further inspections and repairs. (FRA)
Repair works being carried out on the Tamavua-i-Wai bridge. (FRA)

FRA Acting Chief Executive Mr. Rory Garland said that overnight on Friday the contractor, Fulton Hogan Fiji Civil, constructed the platform under the bridge. The preparatory work on the damaged bridge beam was completed at around 7pm Sunday night.

Mr. Garland said a new section of steel beam has been fabricated by Vatuwaqa Industrial Engineering Limited and will be on site today.

GARLAND: “The plan is to install the new section of beam today and then remove the repair platform from the bridge by Wednesday morning. This will allow FRA to open the second lane.”

Mr. Garland said FRA’s bridge engineer, Erasito Beca Consultants Limited had completed the design for the repair last week and are now monitoring the physical work.

“On Saturday Erasito-Beca engineers were able inspect some of the other bridge joints. Following their assessment a weight restriction of 18 tonnes was imposed to protect the safety of the public and our workers under the bridge. The engineers are now undertaking detailed inspections of the rest of the bridge using a barge to get close-up under the whole structure. We expect to get results from this inspection later today and then we will reconsider the need for weight restrictions.”

He said the LTA have been running vehicle weight checks around the clock and the Police have been working with FRA’s maintenance contractor to help ease the traffic conditions.

“FRA would like to extend our thanks to all our government and industry partners for helping to deal with this incident. There have been a lot of hours put in overnight and over the weekend. But most of all we would like to thank the travelling public for their patience.”

Mr. Garland said FRA will be reviewing their bridge inspection programme immediately in light of this incident and will focus on those bridges that are suffering the worst of the overloading.

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