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North, MacLaren
Spreading the load - the management of heritage timber truss bridges in the NSW road network
16th Engineering Heritage Australia Conference: Conserving Our Heritage - Make a Difference!
Engineers Australia, Barton, Australian Capital Territory, 2011, pp. 496-503

The use of timber in bridge construction was prevalent throughout NSW in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, leading the state to be dubbed the "Timber Truss Bridge State". Over the period c1880-1930 over 400 timber truss bridges were constructed throughout the state, opening up traffic for trade and settlement and providing river crossings in often remote and inaccessible areas, using readily available local materials. Built to a load standard of approximately 15 tonnes, the remaining bridges within the NSW road network are now regularly subjected to loads of 45 tonnes or greater, with pressure to further increase freight limits. How then can such bridges be managed within the context of the demands of a modern road network, where it is not always possible to upgrade the bridge or divert traffic? This paper examines a strategic management process developed by the author with the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority to assess the ongoing suitability of the remaining portfolio of 48 timber truss bridges and develop a long-term management strategy which is sustainable from a cost and operations perspective, while ensuring a representative selection of these important engineering heritage assets are retained within the road network. This framework has served as the basis for negotiations with the Heritage Council of NSW to ensure that a selection of bridges can be conserved into the future.

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