The Port Augusta City Council has found an ally in its push for the duplication of the Joy Baluch AM Bridge.
And it has come in the form of South Australia’s peak construction engineering body, the Civil Contractors Federation SA (CCF SA), who also have fears about the bridge’s structure degrading.
In a letter to Council CEO John Banks, CCF SA CEO Phil Sutherland said his organisation supports Council’s efforts to have the state and federal government commit to the duplication of the Baluch Bridge.
The bridge had its speed limit reduced to 40kmh for all traffic after the Great Western Bridge was closed indefinitely by Council on March 23.
Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson said following the closure of the Great Western Bridge, Council has decided to ‘capitalise’ on the need for the duplication of the bridge by getting support from outside Port Augusta.
“We know long term the best solution, not just for Port Augusta, but for South Australia, Australia and all of the users, which are a lot of people outside of Port Augusta, is to duplicate that bridge.”
He pointed to the 2012 Port Augusta Road Management Plan’s proposal.
The proposal would duplicate the existing bridge to two lanes in each direction, and includes the widening of approach roads to allow for the provision of two lanes in both directions between Mackay Street and Mildred Street.
It would also require the further upgrade of the Augusta Highway and the Caroona Road/Burgoyne Street intersection.
The new plan would cost around $195 million, with the state and federal government funding around $39 million and $156 million respectively.
Mr Johnson said Council can’t afford to demolish the Great Western Bridge or build a replacement.
He favoured a push for more investment into Port Augusta’s Western Jetty. CCF SA CEO Officer Phil Sutherland said duplicating the Baluch Bridge must be the ‘number one priority’ for Port Augusta.
“ .. That bridge is part of the national highway network, it’s a strategic bridge in the network … it’s currently not fit for purpose,” he said.
“On top of that, the bridge is starting to degrade, we’ve had reports of bits of concrete falling off from the under side of the bridge.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) said DPTI is not aware of any concrete falling from the Joy Baluch AM Bridge, but DPTI will arrange for an additional visual inspection to be undertaken.
“DPTI endeavours to maintain structures in a safe and serviceable condition by undertaking regular inspections and repairs. Any action identified during an inspection is programmed in an appropriate time frame,” the spokesperson said.