Brunswick Heads South Arm Bridge timber upgrade

Image of South Arm Bridge Brunswick Heads

Timber renewal of the Brunswick Heads bridge commenced early February 2020 and works are progressing well with Stage Two of construction now into its final stages.  These works are expected to be completed by end-September, weather permitting, when the bridge's deck will be completed and open to two lanes of traffic again. Following this, Council will be working on some final touches including upgrades for the bridge's road approaches as well as painting and installation of upgraded railing on both the bridge and pedestrian walkway. 

The pedestrian walkway is closed during stage two works.  Please use the Footbridge, near Terrace Holiday Park to cross the river.

The contractor's compound and material lay-down area is set up in the car-parking area opposite the Hotel Brunswick and some car-parking spaces will not be available for public use during these works. 

About the Bridge Renewal project

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 works 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 meant that commencement of works were postponed until early February 2020.

Additional monitoring of load limits (at 10 tonnes) helped to ensure that the structure remained safe.

Works on the bridge 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 second stage of works.  Pedestrian and cycling access will be blocked for about eight to twelve 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 vehicles throughout the project.  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. 

In February 2019, an engineering inspection and load assessment of the bridge rated its condition as very poor which resulted in a further load limit reduction from 30 tonnes to 10 tonnes.  The bridge is in critical need of structural restoration to ensure its ongoing safety. 

One lane will remain open to vehicle traffic on the bridge.  The 10 tonne limit still applies until the works are finished. 
From 7am until 5pm the bridge will be staffed by traffic controllers who will manage traffic flow in both directions. There may be short periods where full closures will be required and if possible any closures will take place during the night or at quieter times of the day. 

Works on the northern side of the bridge will be completed first so the bridge’s pedestrian walkway will remain open during this time.  During the second stage of works, when the southern side of the bridge is closed to traffic, you will not be able to walk or ride your bike over the bridge. Please use the pedestrian footbridge if you wish to cross Simpsons Creek during this time.  Council apologises for the inconvenience this pedestrian closure may cause. 

With one lane opened to traffic, all emergency services including ambulance, fire brigade, police and marine rescue vehicles will have access across Simpsons Creek as needed.  Council will work alongside all emergency services to provide access at all times, even in the event of a full bridge closure.  Works will be conducted in such a sequence as to allow for emergency access.

Yes, watercraft will be able to go under the bridge while the works are underway.  There are six spans altogether under the bridge and Council will close two at a time so that four spans are always accessible for watercraft movement during the upgrade.

We are using certified hardwood repurposed from timber bridges around Bangalow.   The design of the bridge remains the same and we are simply replacing the old and decaying components of the bridge with the hardwood timber elements.

Once the bridge’s structure is safe, Council will upgrade several sections of the deck (the road section of the bridge) replacing rotten timber sleepers with new repurposed hardwood 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.

No concrete or steel will be used other than fasteners and concrete sleeves for pile joins. Fasteners will be concealed and replace the existing bolts on the road deck.

No, not as part of this project.  We have to prioritise restoration of the bridge’s structural integrity first and foremost.  Council acknowledges the community’s concerns about motorist and pedestrian safety on the northern side of the bridge and will investigate options for funding this or other measures to address these safety concerns in the future.

The normal 44 tonne vehicle access will be restored following the completion of works.