The new bearings for the Matthew Flinders Bridge arrive on site.
The new bearings for the Matthew Flinders Bridge arrive on site. Allen Winter

Marina bridge repairs running ahead of schedule

WORK on the repairs to the Matthew Flinders Bridge over Auckland Creek to the Gladstone Marina is ahead of schedule, and the new bearings are likely to be installed overnight tonight.

The original bearings were removed yesterday and the new bearings were being assembled this morning before being trucked to the site this afternoon.

"If all goes well, I'd expect the night shift crew will have both bearings installed tonight," Gladstone regional council engineer David Guinane said.

One of the original bearings, which were installed when the bridge was built in 1992, has failed causing problems in lifting and lowering the centre deck to allow marine traffic to pass through.

"The old bearings are now at the council depot and we will be inspecting them to see what has failed, and refurbishing them so that we have a spare in case we need one in the future," said Mr Guinane.

Made of Teflon, the bearings rotate on an alloy shaft, which is about one metre in length and 300mm in diameter. Each bearing weighs about 1.7 tonnes.

To remove the bearings contractors Walz Construction have had to jack up the movable section of the bridge to take the load off the shaft and bearings.

The bearings are being assembled in Bundaberg, at Bundaberg Walkers - formerly Walkers Foundry where the original bearings were built - but the other components have come from many parts, including Western Australia, and the actual Teflon bearing was sourced from overseas.

"That has been the delay in getting the job done earlier," said Mr Guinane.

"It was sourcing all of the components which has taken the time."

The job is expected to be completed by December 23, if all goes to plan.

"We have quite a long commissioning period to make sure that all components are in good condition, including components we haven't touched. We don't expect any problems."

The pedestrian walkways have been removed from the bridge to allow the work to be done, and they are being refurbished as part of the project.

Mr Guinane said about five or six people were working on each of two 12-hour shifts to get the job completed.

"As well as that there will be people back at the workshop working on the pedestrian walkways," he said.