In a move that would reduce the cost of installing new concrete bridges on local roads by around 10-20%, Coffs Harbour City Council is to start casting its own concrete bridge components.
“Council currently sources its precast units from one of three suppliers, all of which are remote from Coffs Harbour in Newcastle, the Hunter Valley and Armidale,” said Mick Raby, Council’s Director Sustainable Infrastructure.
“Unfortunately the cost of transporting heavy precast units to Coffs Harbour is expensive and contributes significantly to the final build cost. By manufacturing locally, transport costs will be significantly reduced.”
There are currently 55 timber bridges in the Coffs Harbour local government area that will need replacing in the next 20 to 30 years.
“By manufacturing our own bridge components we can save approximately 30% from the existing cost of precast items and reduce the total cost of a precast concrete bridge by between 10 and 20%,” added Mr Raby.
“There are manufacturers on the Coffs Coast that make bridge components, but they don’t make them for smaller bridges, which is what we need. This currently limits the options available to us when we’re working through our Bridge Renewal Program.”
A casting yard, built at a cost of $143,000, will be located on Council land on Christmas Bells Road, which is currently used for the storage of construction and maintenance materials.
Existing Council staff have the experience, knowledge and qualifications to produce bridge components on a par with what is currently available on the market. Components would be made as required.
“The proposal will help support the retention of skilled labour within the region,” said Mr Raby.
“It’s likely that once the Pacific Highway upgrade winds down, skilled labour will move onto other projects. Having this new enterprise will help keep these skills in the community where they can eventually provide training and opportunities for younger employees.”