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GDE collapses onto Barton Highway

By 17 August 2010 128

[First filed: Aug 14, 2010 @ 15:54]

Bridge collapse

The Canberra Times brings word of a new and sorry twist in the tail of the Gungahlin Drive Extension with a major collapse of the new work over the Barton Highway:

Firefighters have freed a man trapped under a section of the Gungahlin Drive extension that collapsed this afternoon. Stage two of the extension has collapsed onto the Barton Highway while construction work was underway around 2pm.

Everyone on site at the time of collapse has been accounted for. The Emergency Services Agency said paramedics treated 15 people at the scene, and 10 would be taken to hospital in stable conditions.

More as it comes in. If you have pictures please send them in to images@the-riotact.com

UPDATE: The ESA has this to say:

3:10pm Saturday 14 August 2010 – Update two – no serious injuries 15 people being assessed on scene by intensive care paramedics with up to 10 to be transported to hospital in a stable condition.

No critical injuries at this time.

2:35pm 14 August 2010 – Update person freed One person confirmed trapped on scene has been freed by firefighters.

2:15pm Saturday 14 August 2010 – Report of construction collapse ACT Ambulance Service and ACT Fire Brigade responding to reports of a construction collapse on the Barton Highway Gungahlin.

Update to follow

FURTHER UPDATE: This grim warning on the traffic implications from the ESA:

4:10pm Saturday 14 August 2010 – Final update on partial bridge collapse ACT Ambulance Service has transported a nine patients to the Canberra Hospital in a stable condition with minor injuries following a partial bridge collapse on the Barton Highway Gungahlin.

The section of bridge that collapsed was under construction adjacent to an existing bridge.

The injuries range from limb to suspected spinal.

A total of 15 patients have been assessed on scene by intensive care paramedics.

One man was trapped for around 15 minutes until he was rescued by firefighters.

The ESA was alerted to the incident just before 2 o’clock.

The road is expected to remain closed for quite some time.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The ABC has word from roads supremo Tony Gill:

“Our initial advice is that it could take up to two weeks before we are in a position to remove the debris and get the road open for public use,” he said.

“We are getting an independent engineer’s report just to get an understanding of how the bridge collapsed and secondly we need to engage a demolition contractor to remove the debris.

“But we also have to make sure it is safe for that demolition contractor to go in and remove the debris.”

ONE MORE UPDATE FOR THE ROAD: The TAMS websites has this morning (16 August) put up a statement dated 14 August on the road closures (file data says it was created this morning):

The ACT Government wishes to advise motorists and other road users that Barton
Highway, at its intersection with Gungahlin Drive, is closed (in both directions) until further
notice.

Barton Highway (Northbound): All northbound traffic will be detoured via Gungahlin Drive, Ginninderra Drive, Baldwin Drive and William Slim Drive to reconnect with Barton Highway.

Barton Highway (Southbound): All southbound traffic will be detoured via Gungahlin Drive, Sandford Street roundabout, and Gungahlin Drive to reconnect with Barton Highway.

Gungahlin Drive (Southbound off-ramp): Right turn onto Barton Highway will be closed.

Traffic will be able to turn left from Gungahlin Drive onto Barton Highway towards the city,
however people are encouraged to detour via Mitchell.

Detour signage has been erected to alert people of the closure and to direct traffic.

The ACT Government apologises for any inconvenience caused.

For up-to-date information on road closures please call Canberra Connect on 13 22 81.

Slideshow below:

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128 Responses to GDE collapses onto Barton Highway
#31
vg10:01 pm, 14 Aug 10

ace666 said :

I carn’t remember so many major building site accidents in the days when unions actually had input into site safety, as opposed to a card people carry that says they are safe. Since the attack began on union activity I can recall a hanger collapse, a couple of largish concrete slabs collapsing, this bridge. How many major collapses in Canberra prior 1996?

Just as many, if not more. The money saved in paying off union officials is invested in technologies these days. Mind you the BLF just maimed people who didn’t agree with them

#32
vg10:03 pm, 14 Aug 10

dipstick said :

Lots of cops at the actual site. Wish they would have deployed a few further up the Barton at the big roundabout (William Slim/Gundaroo Rd) to stop the traffic buildup heading into the city.

What, instead of dealing with people who might actually been killed or injured instead of inconvenienced?

#33
Arthur McKenzie10:16 pm, 14 Aug 10

Just went and had a quick look. Appears the main I section bridge deck beams weren’t laterally braced against sideways movement and rotation as they should have been. And the top splice plates at midspan weren’t attached or bolted – no plates and no bolts, just bolt holes.

What this means is the beams are laterally unstable and easily tip over on their side. The bottom splices are not strong enough to hold the beams together once they’ve tipped over. So the whole lot hits the deck!

A run of the mill problem easily addressed by even the most basic engineer.

The money saved by cutting corners would have been a pittance – not even enough for a couple of ambulance rides.

#34
Fran_B10:29 pm, 14 Aug 10

I too hope no one has serious injuries from this accident. Whenever I drive under these bridge extensions currently under construction, I feel slightly nervous and wonder how safe it is for motorists passing underneath the extension.

Now this has happened. What precautions are being taken to prevent the extensions falling onto oncoming traffic?! Is it fail safe?

#35
ForReal11:06 pm, 14 Aug 10

“As with all the Stage 2 [GDE] bridges 6 m approach slabs will be installed behind the bridge’s abutments. This is particularly pertinent given the post construction problems encountered with settlement of the embankments within the bridge approaches.” [June 2009]

“The Galvanised SuperProps will support steel bridging beams spanning over the live [Barton Hwy] road condition. …a second supply contract … has been secured for the … 1.2 metre thick Bridge deck to a height of 5.4 metres located at Kings Avenue in Canberra.” [May 19, 2010]

Who knows how long this inquiry might take?

(PS – no fear, the quotes are in the public domain)

#36
Arthur McKenzie11:47 pm, 14 Aug 10

Pandy said :

Just because the big smoke of Melbourne had the Westgaste Bridge collapse, Canberra has to have its own? Damn you Stanhope!

(good that no-one was killed but)

Be careful about being critical of Mr Nohope. Not so much that you’re wrong it’s just that his usual weasel word blither of ‘finding it very offensive’ and then threatening defamation is just plain boring, but ever so predictable. Let Canberra’s Biggest and Best Disaster Man have his say now that Victoria pipped him at the post with their bushfires.

#37
thehutch1:14 am, 15 Aug 10

arescarti42 said :

I guess it was lucky that it collapsed on a Saturday at 2pm on a Saturday. It could have been much much uglier if it was weekday peak hour.

The road was closed because they were working on it… Prime example of why its a good idea to close the road, so people ain’t driving underneath it when something goes really wrong.

Most accidents, both at work and out of work, are preventable… but human beings are flawed – we make errors, take short-cuts etc etc. So the only way to truly eliminate these things would be to remove the human element – which of course is impossible. Things are improving, but they’ll never be 100%.

So shit happens… build a bridge and get over it (just don’t use this engineer)

On a side note, hope everyone is okay. I’ll be interested to find out what happens re the Barton Hwy as I am moving to Gungahlin in the next month.

#38
synic8:10 am, 15 Aug 10

Pork Hunt said :

cranky said :

A textbook demonstration of how the ACT Gov OH&S inspectors are out of their depth.

Instead of requiring reams of paper known as a safe work statements to cover their arses in cases like these, and fining builders for not including their license no. on their signs, their training obviously misses out on building/engineering practise. They have patently missed the vital flaw in the contractors paperwork.

They should be able to actively oversight the job at hand, because they have been granted all the power under the sun to interfere with the contractor’s operation.

Authority without responsibility. Bit like local Govco as a whole.

What the f%&k does this have to do with ACT Gov OH&S inspectors?

They are not nursemaids who look over your shoulder when you’re building shit!

Why would they be looking at the contractors “paperwork”???

Engineers plan shit, scaffolders/formworkers erect shit and sadly, shit has happened.

Sweet FA to do with workcover and safe work method statements when they’re pouring concrete and it goes pear shaped!

I heard there are only 2 gov ohs inspectors doing all of the construction stuff in Canberra. Its the contractors responsibility anyway – someone has stuffed something up

#39
milkman8:10 am, 15 Aug 10

“The bridge is ooooooooout…”

#40
Silentforce9:17 am, 15 Aug 10

Yesiree, we have a top-notch building/construction approvals and inspection regime here in the ACT.

Seems no lessons learned here:

CT 18 Jan 2008

“A car parked on a street used by pedestrians was crushed under 15 tonnes of concrete and steel in a demolition accident in Belconnen yesterday.

The Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union said it had warned ACT WorkCover about the potential dangers of the wall a fortnight ago and it had been ignored”.

Don’t know if yesterday’s bridge collapse was covered by insurance or if the ACT Government will pick up the tab for reconstruction and compensation but you can bet either way, we ratepayers and taxpayers will ultimately foot the bill. Just ask Jon.

#41
paperboy9:20 am, 15 Aug 10

Are we sure it’s not another Stanhope-inspired piece of art… It looks a lot like the mess on the other side of the road

#42
Mr Evil10:25 am, 15 Aug 10

Workchoices is to blame: there’s no two ways about it. I’ve seen the union ads on TV; I know what’s going on!

I feel sorry for the people who were there when it happened, and I hope they will all make full and speedy recoveries. I also feel sorry for the poor buggers who have to spend the next few days trying to clear that mess off the road.

I guess the only upside is that it’s going to be great watching Stanhope squirm about this on the news for the next few days – and then get all indignant when some difficult questions are asked.

By the way, can anyone recall if the spans of the existing bridge were pre-fab sections that were installed in two sections by cranes?

#43
Elfrey10:50 am, 15 Aug 10

“Just went and had a quick look. Appears the main I section bridge deck beams weren’t laterally braced against sideways movement and rotation as they should have been. And the top splice plates at midspan weren’t attached or bolted – no plates and no bolts, just bolt holes.”

I know the bloke who owns whats left of the concrete pump under the bridge, and apparently the bolts snapped. High tensile steel was probably too pricey.

#44
dr phil10:53 am, 15 Aug 10

Word is that it wound be cleaned up, cheaper to have it as more “ART” for the GDE.

#45
kiwiengineer10:58 am, 15 Aug 10

The first bridge was constructed by the Federal Highway Joint Venture and it was a balanced cantilever construction. The sections were poured in-situ using concrete pumps. The formwork was supported off the structure itself. It was constructed in 2006 and done with minimal impact to traffic.

#46
Mr Evil11:07 am, 15 Aug 10

Cheers, Kiwiengineer.

I recall hearing that one bridge was being constructed using pre-fab section(s) built in Newcastle, but maybe it was the one across Gininderra Drive that I’m thinking of?

#47
Thepond11:08 am, 15 Aug 10

paperboy said :

Are we sure it’s not another Stanhope-inspired piece of art… It looks a lot like the mess on the other side of the road

It’s just a bit more expensive. cool $3.3m

#48
kiwiengineer11:20 am, 15 Aug 10

Actually sorry… The balanced cantilever was on Belconnen Way. I am sorry. The barton Highway one was also cast-insitu using a falsework system. I believe the first bridge also had problems because a farmer passing through the job with a truck overloaded with hay hit the height warning gantry.

#49
Rawhide Kid No 211:51 am, 15 Aug 10

Makes me a bit nervous driving under the bridge construction on Belconnen Way now. Might go another way from now on.

#50
ogloooooos11:55 am, 15 Aug 10

has anything been published about using alternate routes or the timeline in which this debacle will be sorted out yet?…….

I hope all those injured make a speedy recovery.

#51
thy_dungeonman11:59 am, 15 Aug 10

“It’s not the mayor’s fault that the stadium collapsed”

#52
Arthur McKenzie12:12 pm, 15 Aug 10

Elfrey said :

“Just went and had a quick look. Appears the main I section bridge deck beams weren’t laterally braced against sideways movement and rotation as they should have been. And the top splice plates at midspan weren’t attached or bolted – no plates and no bolts, just bolt holes.”

I know the bloke who owns whats left of the concrete pump under the bridge, and apparently the bolts snapped. High tensile steel was probably too pricey.

Certainly possible, and/or that the bolts weren’t tightened properly. I got the impression the mid-span top flange splice plates weren’t even installed in the first place! You would expect at least a few still-attached mangled plates and bolts to be there but I saw none. (Keep in mind that the other flange splice plates are still there!)

It’s also not a good move to have public access under the bridge while it’s being built. That was one of the related outcomes of the Westgate Bridge Collapse Royal Commission.

Some sculpture! Maybe Mr Nohope will dedicate it as the GAE – Gungahlin Arboretum Extension.

#53
BenMac12:41 pm, 15 Aug 10

Supposidly the clean up will take 5 days, and the road blocks will continue til then. So I’m guessing aviod the area til at least the weekend.

#54
bigcohuna112:43 pm, 15 Aug 10

Unfortunately was in another dimension (NSW) until late and only heard of this accident this morning. So sorry to hear that a number of workers were hurt, 1 seriously.

Form the other comments – what was traffic doing backing up? there were huge sign board each way up for ages saying the Barton Highway would be closed on both the 14th & 15th (for the bridgework) from 8-6 daily – which was a smart move anytime.

As for disruptions – we’re just going ot have to deal with it the old fashioned way like we did before the bridge to nowhere opened up (even with only 1 lane) – just leave a bit earlier and go some other way – and be patient

#55
bigcohuna112:47 pm, 15 Aug 10

And congratulations to the ACT Ambulance Service, ACT Fire Brigade and Aust Federal Police for a quick response and handlingof the incident – suddenly having to manage 15 casualties and a rescue in a dangerous industrial environment probably would have put their resources and operational management to the test (handling this and their regular workload). Thoughts go to the hospital staff for their work on this as well.

#56
eq212:50 pm, 15 Aug 10

Arthur McKenzie said :

Appears the main I section bridge deck beams weren’t laterally braced against sideways movement and rotation as they should have been. And the top splice plates at midspan weren’t attached or bolted – no plates and no bolts, just bolt holes.

What this means is the beams are laterally unstable and easily tip over on their side. The bottom splices are not strong enough to hold the beams together once they’ve tipped over. So the whole lot hits the deck!

What’s your review of the bridge under construction over Belconnen Way?

#57
WillowJim12:53 pm, 15 Aug 10

Can’t be bothered reading all the comments, but I assume someone’s blamed Stanhope, right?

#58
Arthur McKenzie1:46 pm, 15 Aug 10

eq2 said :

Arthur McKenzie said :

Appears the main I section bridge deck beams weren’t laterally braced against sideways movement and rotation as they should have been. And the top splice plates at midspan weren’t attached or bolted – no plates and no bolts, just bolt holes.

What this means is the beams are laterally unstable and easily tip over on their side. The bottom splices are not strong enough to hold the beams together once they’ve tipped over. So the whole lot hits the deck!

What’s your review of the bridge under construction over Belconnen Way?

That bridge is being built using a different method, explained by kiwiengineer, I think, above. It’s a much more sophisticated way of doing it, but that’s not a reason in just itself for trusting it. The sad thing in this overconfident spin-cycle state is there are way too many disasters – implosions, hangars, sagging floor slabs in office blocks, workers falling through missing covers and manholes, bush fires, car damage from the resurfarcing in Northbourne Ave, not to mention getting killed by a speed filled AFP car chase. All very dangerous and all totally manageable and all just disasters waiting to happen.

Not necessarily Mr Nohopes direct fault but a symptom of bad management. He should be setting a better pace than this regrettable rubbish instead of telling us how offended he gets.

As for Belconnen Way, I don’t know whether it’s safe or not, I haven’t looked in detail. But I avoid driving under it. Forget about a major collapse, all it takes is somebody dropping a hammer or bolt or piece of pipe accidentally on a train of cars travelling underneath. The standard of protection against this is not very good from the little bit I have seen. Stay away from it if you can while it’s being built, at least.

#59
housebound1:48 pm, 15 Aug 10

It’ll be interesting to see the report of al this – how much the experience in bridge-building the contractors had and whether or not they were the cheapest tender.

Could be RCH all over again – hopefully no one dies this time around.

#60
Spectra4:10 pm, 15 Aug 10

I recall hearing that one bridge was being constructed using pre-fab section(s) built in Newcastle, but maybe it was the one across Gininderra Drive that I’m thinking of?

That is indeed the one you’re thinking of. From memory they are using the longest such sections available – at least in this country. Interesting that they’re using at least three completely different bridge construction methods along the length of the road. (Not suggesting it implies anything negative, it’s just interesting from an engineering perspective).

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