Brunswick Heads’ iconic South Arm Bridge is in urgent need of an upgrade to ensure it is structurally safe for use and to enable continuing access to much-loved beaches, parks, homes, facilities and connection to the town.
In February 2019, an engineering inspection and load assessment of the bridge rated it in very poor condition and the load limit on the bridge was reduced from 30 tonnes to 10 tonnes.
Council was awarded a grant from the Australian Government’s Bridges Renewal program for $607,000 to upgrade the bridge and we will provide matching funds to complete critical works needed to make the bridge structurally safer. Total investment in this project is more than $1.2 million dollars.
While the restoration words were initially scheduled to start in September 2019, the discovery of significant numbers of nesting Welcome Swallows under the bridge and in the Cape Byron Marine Park mean that commencement of works has now been postponed until early February 2020.
Additional monitoring of load limits, which will remain strictly at 10 tonnes, will help ensure that the structure remains safe.
In February 2020, works on the bridge will involve replacement of critical structural elements including the timber girders and concrete-wrapped piles (the column supports that hold the bridge up).
Once the bridge’s structure is safe, we will upgrade several sections of the deck (the road section of the bridge) replacing rotten timber sleepers with recycled timber. At the same time, the protruding steel bolts will be replaced with internal steel fastenings to create a smoother and safer timber road surface more resistant to long term decay.
Council is retaining the timber features and heritage look and feel of the bridge. The existing footprint of the bridge will not change and the overall look of the bridge will generally not change as existing timber elements will be replaced with similar looking certified hardwood timber.
The community is advised that there will be no pedestrian or cycling access across the bridge during the first stage of works at the southern end. Pedestrian and cycling access will be blocked for about six to eight weeks. The footbridge will be the detour walkway for pedestrians and those on bicycles during this time. Council apologises for any inconvenience this may cause.
Motor vehicle traffic will be managed by traffic controllers during the day and a single lane will remain open for vehicle throughout the project. Short bridge closures may be required at certain times.
This is a significant major project, designed to give the bridge another 50 years of life, ensuring it remains part of the town of Brunswick Heads for the long-term.