A section of the RMS interactive mapping of the Pacific Highway showing the location of the bridge at Mororo.
A section of the RMS interactive mapping of the Pacific Highway showing the location of the bridge at Mororo. Tim Howard

Unstable bridge could delay Pacific Highway upgrade

THE RMS has downplayed a claim that one of the bridges on the Pacific Highway is structurally unsound and could delay the opening of a section of the highway upgrade.

A Roads and Maritime Services spokesperson said it was investigating some minor movement in the southern abutment of the new bridge while work continues on the northern end of the bridge.

"All appropriate measures are in place to ensure the ongoing safety of workers and water users, with environmental controls in place to protect the river," the spokesperson said.

"Roads and Maritime is continuing to monitor the site."

The leaked information came from a person working on the project, who said the bridge issue had the potential to delay the opening of the section of the highway for up to a year, but the RMS has rejected this.

"The Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade project remains on schedule and is on track to open to traffic in 2020," its spokesperson said.

The insider, who cannot be named, said bridge B08 at Mororo was "doing its best to fall down" and caused project managers Pacific Complete to call a meeting of sub-contractors on Wednesday.

He said the new bridge had not "settled" into position and had moved a few centimetres when a temporary bridge next to it was removed.

"That was all by itself with no traffic on it," he said. "They're not sure if this means the bank is unstable or it's moved because the removal of the temporary bridge has allowed the nearby soil to move around."

The informant said the contractors were delivered an ultimatum at the meeting.

"They called them all into their offices near the Iluka turnoff and laid down the law to them," he said.

"Basically they wanted to know if any contractor was aware of any reasons for the instability or of any work that caused it, they should own up.

"They were warned that if investigations revealed any work done was responsible, that contractor would be billed for the rectification work."

The RMS has not confirmed or denied this meeting took place.

The industry contact said contractors handled different sections of the work.

"One does the pilings, some do the road, one does the decking another does the embankments etc.," he said.

"It could be that the problem has come from something they're all doing."

He said if the problem required extensive work to fix, Pacific Complete would be required to build a detour around the bridge.

"They would have a road zig zagging away from the approach to the new bridge and then zig zag back to the old bridge," he said.

He said if the bank was unstable it posed serious engineering problems.

"One of the solutions would be to drive massive pylons into the bank," he said.

"But if the bank is unstable, how is it going to support the massive machines that are going to be used to do this?"

But the insider said some talk around the work site pointed the finger at a design problem with the bridge, although he did not elaborate on this.

The Daily Examiner asked the RMS a series of questions, but they did not answer the questions.

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