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Pyrmont Bridge Structural Restoration

Opened in 1902, Pyrmont Bridge is one of the oldest surviving electrically operated swing span bridges in the world. It has been recognised as a National Engineering Landmark by the Institution of Engineers, Australia and is listed in the New South Wales State Heritage Register.

The swing span is still in operation and opens approximately 600 times a year to allow recreational and commercial vessels access to Cockle Bay. Now a major thoroughfare for pedestrians and cyclists between Sydney’s city centre and the suburbs of Pyrmont, Ultimo and Glebe, the bridge always needs to be kept operational.

Annual routine inspections identified a number of the bridge’s structural components, including timber trusses and timber pier sets, needed to be replaced. Stage 1 of the project addressed the timber pier sets, which involved the replacement of defective timbers including raising and lowering of sections of the bridge over each pier set, a delicate exercise with hydraulic jacks loaded up to average 430 tons.  All this was completed without incident while the bridge remained fully operational.

The New South Wales (NSW) government partnered with the private sector to successfully complete stage one in twenty months at a cost of $8 million. Future stages of the project are planned to address restoration of the trusses above the pier sets and the pedestrian deck.

Our role

As part of the structural restoration project, Place Management NSW (PMNSW) engaged Currie & Brown to provide construction site surveillance services for Stage 1. We were appointed construction manager and principal’s authorised person responsible for managing contractors and supervising all works undertaken to ensure high standards of safety, quality, heritage and cost management.

The construction management function, which required the management of the treatment of heritage elements to be retained, removed or replaced, was complex. Enabled by Place Management’s in-house heritage experts, heritage assets and processes have been maintained. The work-as-executed drawings and Currie & Brown’s narrative record now provide an operational and maintenance manual to assist the future care of the bridge.

Currie & Brown reported to monthly control group, GC21 contract performance/evaluation meetings and weekly site meetings. The challenges posed by the busy pedestrian and cycle thoroughfare on the deck and the busy vessel thoroughfare between the pier sets were overcome without the need to stop the flow above on deck or below on the waterway.

The team had to keep Events NSW and its clients, including the International Boat Show and commercial tenants, constantly appraised of upcoming site activity and noise levels.  We also kept PMNSW notified of future event operational challenges and essential site requirements, including the timing of tasks that could only be undertaken in tandem with the tides and vessel movements.

Our team-driven approach was embraced by everyone in the team, and as a result the project was completed ahead of schedule and well under budget.


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