As tens of thousands of ageing timber bridges throughout regional Australia continue towards the end of their structural lives, local governments and councils are struggling to bring regional infrastructure to an adequate standard.
With no plywood bridge deck system available, councils have been forced to lower road limits and reduce speed limits on the roads, which serves only as a Band-Aid solution to the continuing deterioration and disrepair of the approximate 30,000 timber bridges that are currently deemed unsafe.
In November 2013, the Federal Government announced the Bridges Renewal Program and has offered $300 million to match state and council authorities’ investment in upgrading bridges, but this still leaves a shortfall and, as bridges continue along their lifespan, the significant gap in funding only widens.
A solution to rehabilitate timber bridges that are in desperate need of repair or replacement is now available in the form of a new plywood bridge deck system, called Bridgeply, just launched by national timber specialist and major plywood manufacturer, Big River Group.
Bridgeply is an engineered substitute for traditional hardwood decking and an economically sound alternative. Bridgeply can effectively extend the safety, lifespan and capacity of ageing timber bridges with a considerable cost saving and at a significantly reduced rate of construction.
Structural qualities of Bridgeply
- lighter in mass than concrete and steel, and therefore easier to manoeuvre and use
- can be used with a variety of support structures
- manufactured from Australian plantation pine
- site constraints are more easily met for cut and drill
- envelope treated to H4
- stress graded to F11, and
- AFS/PEFC (Australian Forestry Standard/Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) Chain of Custody.
A retrofit solution
Rehabilitating existing structures with Bridgeply not only provides significant cost savings of material, but the lightweight handling means installation can occur without losing too much time and with minimal disruption to traffic. The strength and sturdiness of Bridgeply components reinforce areas of weakness without having to replace the entire bridge.
Maintaining a width of 1200 millimetres, lengths and thicknesses can be made to meet specifications offering great flexibility in design. Bridgeply is particularly effective for smaller bridges and the ply is cross-laminated to ensure that longitudinal and lateral stiffness are evenly distributed.
The company behind Bridgeplay, the Big River Group, is one of the largest private timber manufacturing and marketing businesses in Australia, servicing all states and many international projects.