Yet another dangerous Grafton bridge

What is it about Grafton and bridges? Here’s yet another story about a dangerous bridge — this is about an Australian bridge affectionately nicknamed “Old Rusty,” because that’s TOTALLY a branding that is going to make commuters feel all safe and toasty inside.

The story’s from the Daily Examiner and was emailed to me by John, who clearly has an obsession with towns named Grafton and their difficulties getting across rivers. Prediction: he will email me something tomorrow about a tunnel.

Bridge check says ‘old rusty’ is safe

Tim Howard | 18th June 2009

Construction of the Grafton Bridge

THERE is no danger of the Grafton Bridge collapsing and falling into the Clarence River in the foreseeable future, the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) said yesterday.
Responding to a list of questions inspired by fears of Daily Examiner readers, the RTA said it was confident the bridge was completely safe.
“The Grafton Bridge is safe and structurally sound. It was designed for heavy rail and road loads and the traffic volume over the bridge is not a structural concern,” an RTA spokesperson said.
“The RTA carries out regular inspections of the Grafton Bridge, the most recent inspection being June 15.
“The RTA also continues to work with Australian Rail Track Corporation as part of these regular inspections.”
One reader, James Patterson, of Ramo rnie, described the frightening sideways motion of the bridge as he watched seven B-double trucks negotiate one of the bends on the bridge.
“The car was shaking and the bridge was moving sideways,” Mr Patterson said.
“I can’t remember ever seeing that sort of sideways movement on the bridge.”
Mr Patterson also worried about the cumulative effect of extra heavy vehicles on the bridge and the damage it might cause.
However, the head engineering lecturer at the University of New England, Rex Glencross, said allowance for this type of movement was built into bridges.
Mr Glencross was in Grafton recently for an engineers’ conference at which the Grafton Bridge was the subject of several papers.
“Bridges are a moving entity designed to deal with the dynamic forces of the traffic on them,” he said.
“B-double trucks, because they are a bit taller, might exert more leverage and cause the extra movement that bridge users reported.”
Mr Glencross said the only issue he could see with the Grafton Bridge was maintenance.
“Because the bridge is a steel structure in contact with maritime air and built over water, corrosion is the main maintenance issue,” he said.
“Maintenance would need to scrape away any corrosion and ensure a good paint cover.”
Mr Glencross said the Grafton Bridge was unique in world bridges and a constant source of fascination for engineers.
“It certainly was a major topic of discussion at the recent conference in Grafton,” he said.
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