Australia's largest Mobile Bridge Inspection Platform will improve access for maintenance inspections on Victoria's most iconic bridge, Minister for Roads Terry Mulder said today.
Mr Mulder said the mobile bridge inspection platform would replace permanent 'hanging' inspection platforms for the West Gate Bridge, providing more efficient and cost effective maintenance.
"Mobile bridge inspection platforms are becoming more and more common on large bridges around the world as sustainable and cost effective maintenance tools," Mr Mulder said.
"I'm very pleased to launch this innovation in Victoria, which will provide a great cost saving, as we do away with expensive and heavy permanent inspection platforms that span nearly one kilometre.
"It also improves access to all areas under the West Gate Bridge with an expanding platform that can extend for 20 metres under the bridge deck.
'This will make it is easier for maintenance inspectors to see more of the underside of the bridge and because it is mobile, they can manoeuvre it to exactly where they want to be," Mr Mulder said.
In what can only be described as an 'upside down crane', the unit includes a 17 metre boom arm that extends over the bridge barriers and lowers the inspection platform in place.
In order to stabilise such a large operation, the base truck, at 12 metre in length, has six axles when in operation and weighs 37 tonnes.
"The West Gate Bridge provides a critical link as Melbourne's major cross-town freeway route, carrying around 180,000 vehicles each day," Mr Mulder said.
"To ensure the good condition of the West Gate Bridge more than $12 million is spent each year for bridge maintenance works.
"The Mobile Bridge Inspection Platform has come to Australia all the way from Germany and is a great example of Victoria delivering innovative solutions to manage key infrastructure well into the future."
When in operation, the unit will require two lanes to be closed on the West Gate Bridge to complete an inspection. These will be conducted during off peak periods and at night to reduce delays to traffic.
Its inaugural use on the West Gate Bridge is scheduled for this Saturday 22 September between 6:00am and midday. Drivers are encouraged to plan their journey in advance and check the VicRoads website for changes to traffic conditions.
The Mobile Bridge Inspection Platform may be used by other state road agencies, such as CityLink Melbourne Limited, when not required for the West Gate Bridge.
Mobile Bridge Inspection Platform facts:
- 12 metres long
- 2.5 metres wide
- 4.4 metres tall
- 37 tonne mass
- 800 kilogram maximum payload
- 20 metre long access platform
- 17 metre long boom arm
- 6 effective axles when in operation
West Gate Bridge facts:
- Five lanes each way
- 2.56 kilometres long
- 4.8 kilometres of public safety barriers
- Overhead electronic speed limit and lane use signs
- Traffic lights on entry ramps to smooth traffic flow onto the bridge and freeway
- Opened in 1978.
At 2.56 kilometres, this 'cable stayed' steel box girder bridge is twice as long as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and is one of only a few of its kind in the world, so by its very design, its maintenance program is unique.