The task of inspecting and repairing the 123 bridges and major culverts within the boundaries of the bushfire zone, was led by Regional Roads Victoria (RRV) Eastern Region stalwart, Allan Roach - who has made bridges his business for the vast majority of his 37-year career in the transport industry.
These major structures are vital pieces of infrastructure that ensure our road network continues to operate as an important freight, community and transport link.
“It was critical that we understood any impacts to these assets and swift repair plans were developed, as well as understanding any limitations that may need to be imposed to secure both the safety of the travelling public and the emergency response personnel working on the problem,” said Sara Rhodes-Ward, Director of Bushfire Response for the East Gippsland fires.
Allan’s long career in the transport industry is backed up by a wealth of technical expertise in bridge maintenance and rehabilitation; in his everyday role, he ensures the 430 bridges and 529 major culverts on the entire Gippsland arterial road network are in working order.
“Allan’s vast experience meant that he intuitively understood the objective of the task that allowed quality repair plans to be developed,” said Rhodes-Ward.
His team worked closely with the region’s wider asset management team, specialist DoT bridge engineers, and engineers from the Australian Defence Force, travelling through the fire-ravaged areas in armoured vehicles to make on-the-spot assessments on the capability of the structures.
Among the most severely affected roads were Mallacoota Road and the Princes Highway.
Poddy Creek bridge on Princes Highway was badly damaged by a large fallen tree that had smashed the bridge barrier and cracked the outer concrete supports on the road section of the bridge.
“After careful inspection and analysis, we decided the bridge could operate with one lane of traffic down the centre of the bridge at a slow speed – a great outcome for the community members who rely on this section of the highway,” said Allan.
The team also lent a hand to East Gippsland Shire Council by inspecting and mitigating the risk of collapse to a fire-damaged bridge on the road to the Mallacoota airport, which is managed by the council.
To date, more than 296 kilometres of arterial roads and highways in the bushfire area in the east of the state have been reopened, with inspections and repairs continuing on a further 104 kilometres.
Find out more about our bushfire recovery.