With several thousand bridges within Australia in urgent need of replacement or refurbishment as recognized by the Federal Government’s Bridges Renewal Program, a team of timber construction experts have successfully prefabricated and installed an engineered timber bridge near Maryborough.
Hyne Timber manufactured the engineered timber modules which make up the bridge used to access plantation forests between Poona and Tinnanbar. The customer, HQPlantations, wanted something equal if not stronger than more widely used bridge building components such as steel or concrete to replaced the an old hardwood bridge while demonstrating to the nation the capabilities of their own Australian grown plantation softwood for engineered timber bridges.
The engineered timber bridge meets the Australian Standards including load carrying capacity for logging trucks weighing around 67 tonnes and is more cost effective while designed to complement the plantation surrounds using that very sustainable resource.
There is an incorrect understanding in Australia that concrete bridges last longer than contemporary timber bridges. Bridge Engineer Chris Dowding is aware that the US has about 44,000 structurally deficient concrete bridges to repair or replace. His firm, TOD Consulting has been investigating three local concrete bridges, only 35 to 40 years old, with serious cancer. Conversely, 40 to 50 year-old engineered timber bridges in Alaska, Washington and rainy Oregon were recently tested and were all found to be in satisfactory condition and still able to carry full design truck loads.
Sustainability is a major contributor to the benefits of engineered timber bridges. We can’t regrow the raw materials for concrete bridges. Plantation forests can grow the wood to replace engineered timber bridges well before each one wears out, and these bridges are designed for simple, quick replacement.