Source: Ipswich First

Ipswich City Council is on track to deliver a new Ripley Road bridge in early 2020.

Infrastructure and Environment General Manager Charlie Dill said while there had been some delays in the procurement phase, a first quarter target is achievable.

The demolition of the existing timber bridge is expected to take place in early November and construction on site to commence in late November 2019.

The abutments to the bridge are scheduled to be constructed before Christmas. The bridge superstructure will then be installed in January-February 2020.

To further expedite delivery, council will seek to procure the bridge structure partially fabricated.

The Ripley Road timber bridge was closed to traffic in May 2019.

Mr Dill said the decision to close the bridge was due to safety concerns.

“The bridge structure was in very poor condition requiring a 4T load limit, which unfortunately was not being adhered to. As such, and without daily monitoring, council was unable to ensure motorist safety should these breaches result in failure of the structure and therefore needed to close the bridge with immediate effect,” he said.

Mr Dill said until this work is complete, a detour is in place and council is monitoring and maintaining the route.

Council also addressed some residents’ concerns about the closure, detour and road maintenance program.

“The decision to close the Ripley Road timber bridge was not one that was taken lightly by council,” he said.

“In fact, the initial technical recommendation was that the bridge be closed permanently with the detour becoming a permanent arrangement. I challenged this and sought a more suitable solution for the community.

“Instead, it was decided to replace the bridge, which has resulted in a temporary, rather than permanent, closure. Unfortunately, as a consequence to implementing a more acceptable, longer term solution, there was a slightly longer design period for the new structure.

“Under council’s current program of works, the community will see a full replacement of the bridge in the first quarter of 2020, which in council’s view, is a much better community outcome, particularly those residents that may have had to live with a permanent detour in place.

“Council has been progressing with procurement and delivery strategies to expedite progress where possible and still achieve good value for the community. The procurement strategy needed to be revised when the market responded to the original request with higher than expected costings for the bridge replacement.”

Mr Dill said when council implemented the detour, a sealant treatment was used along the detour in recognition that dust and driver safety needed to be managed as best as possible. While council maintenance crews have been monitoring this on a weekly basis, the ongoing drought and other developer works being undertaken within Providence Estate has exacerbated the issues being experienced. As a result, council is currently reviewing this maintenance program.

Council had circulated a Notification of Works letter to residents and emergency service organisations before the closure, outlining the reasons for the closure, expected timeframes for design, construction and completion.

Staff also personally delivered these Notification of Works to residents living along Bayliss, Watsons, Ward and a large section of Ripley Road.

To reach a wider audience/other motorists, council also erected site signage. Information was also published by Ipswich First and in the local media.

“The project team has responded to 31 direct project enquiries to date and will continue to provide project updates as key milestones are achieved,” he said.