Barron River bridge (Kuranda) management

The Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) has successfully completed inspections, testing and repairs on the Barron River bridge near Kuranda. On 27 October 2021 the bridge safely reopened to 2 lanes.

In late October 2020, inspections identified fatigue cracks in some steel elements of the bridge over the Barron River near Kuranda.

These cracks were caused by many years of impacts from heavy vehicles, which are now much heavier than when the bridge was designed and built in the early 1960s.

The issue is not unusual in steel bridges of this age and can be managed.

If not managed properly, the damage could get worse, resulting in a possible long-term full closure of the bridge.

TMR has carried out investigations, testing and repairs to better understand the issues and ensure the bridge can remain open to traffic.

The bridge is now safe under a two-lane operation with some control measures in place. 

Benefits

  • Improves safety

Key features

  • Bridge reopened to 2 lanes on 27 October 2021.
  • Pedestrian access moved to the southern side of the bridge.
  • 60 km/h speed limit.
  • 50.5 tonne load limit.
  • Cameras and sensors to monitor the performance of the bridge.
  • Occasional Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) that requires single lane closures.
  • TMR has started a $2.1 million planning project to assess options for rehabilitating and strengthening or replacing the bridge. This planning project is expected to be complete in late 2022.
     

Funding

Investigations and repairs were carried out using Element 19 program funding. There is currently no capital budget. 

The Queensland Government has committed $2.1 million to assess options for rehabilitating and strengthening or replacing the bridge. Investment ID 1913999 

Current status

The contract to investigate long-term solutions for the Barron River bridge near Kuranda has been awarded to Arup.

The planning project will confirm the preferred alignment and scope of a replacement bridge, including a viable delivery strategy that also considers the ongoing management and rehabilitation of the existing structure.
The project will look at many aspects, including future capacity improvements, a safe solution for pedestrians and bike riders, and heavy vehicle access.

Arup has also played an important part in the investigations and repairs.

Arup has submitted a final technical report on investigations, monitoring and repair of the bridge.

The report states the bridge is safe to operate with 2 lanes. The 50.5 tonne load limit remains in place, with a speed limit of 60 km/h. The pedestrian access on the bridge has moved to the southern side. These changes reduce the risk of fatigue cracks and provide an opportunity to improve pedestrian safety on the bridge.

TMR will monitor the effectiveness of these control measures and revise them if necessary.

Load limit signage for Barron River bridge

Road sign wide – Load limit signage on Barron River bridge