A major failure in infrastructure cost Italy a high price in Genoa’s Morandi Bridge collapse case in August, reported to be the 10th bridge collapse in Italy. One of the bridge’s structural components, comprised of pre-stressed concrete stays and trestles, collapsed onto a railway line and warehouse 45 metres below, killing 43 people.
The remains were destroyed last month with controlled explosions which destroyed 4,500 tonnes of concrete and steel. The video can be viewed here.
With Australian bridges facing little to no infrastructure control, how likely is a similar incident on home soil?
“More ‘end-of-life failures’ such as that in Genoa could happen in Australia as the age profile of bridges increases and the growing infrastructure backlog worsens,” Dr Colin Caprani, Bridge Engineer and Senior Lecturer in Civil Engineering at Monash University, told Government News.
Dr Caprani said that Australia needs to implement the structural health monitoring of ageing bridges to make sure that an event like Genoa does not replicate in Australia.
Close to 70 per cent of Australian Bridges are more than 50 years old, which is far beyond their design life. These bridges are on the brink of total collapse or major cracks. With the increase in population leading to increased traffic there is more load by the day on these ageing bridges which were not built to hold the load.
“It gives you an idea of the influence of ageing and increasing traffic roads and what they’re doing to our bridges. That’s where we’re headed”, Dr Caprani said.
A recent boom in population suggests that Australia needs to accommodate another 24 million people in the next 40 years. That puts pressure on the infrastructure of the country that ten years ago had about 20.3 Million people.
Rapid reform is required to create an environment conducive to the delivery of this pipeline of critical projects. Australia needs a range of solutions and a steadfast commitment from both the public and private sectors to deliver on it.
To best ensure certainty in the infrastructure pipeline, market conditions need to first be attractive for investors. NAB submitted an infrastructure audit that pin-pointed two key areas related to investment conditions that need significant improvement.
- The first area is the active creation of a large range of funding options for infrastructure projects.
- The second is the need for more certainty over the projects that are being developed. Government policy needs to be formed on the back of a clearly agreed plan of infrastructure priorities, based on transparency in the cost to benefit ratio and the delivery of the required social amenities.
Learn what the key issues lurking around Australia’s infrastructure needs are and how Australia can become a global leader on infrastructure at one of Criterion’s Bridge Asset Management & Renewal conference, running at the Novotel Sydney Central from 13-14 August 2019.