The Westgate Bridge has a long history with building commencing in 1968. Two years into construction of the bridge, at 11.50 am on 15 October 1970, the 112m (367.5 ft) span between piers 10 and 11 collapsed and fell 50m (164 ft) to the ground and water below. Thirty-five construction workers were killed. A monument has been erected at the base of Pier 10 to the fallen workers. This created a unique environment for the team to work in as they were building around this monument – even with the much advance knowledge, vision and engineering the team now has and the capabilities of the team – they are still aware of the danger and the history of that bridge and ensured at all time safety was of extreme importance to everyone.
To assist with efficiencies on the project, Stilcon Scaffolding supplied its own cranes and booms which enabled the team to be more self-sufficient during the build. They worked with plant and equipment at high levels such as working out of booms that reach up to 60 or 70 metres high and working closely with 90 tonne cranes in the delivery of scaffolding and equipment. Due to the high-risk elements involved working at these heights, Stilcon Scaffolding took it upon themselves to offer several VOC trainings, also ensuring rescue training was completed by all scaffolders/riggers working on this project.
The Pier 10 requirements could not be built in-situ and so hence the design needed to address these restrictions. The Stilcon Scaffolding team came together to create cutting-edge designs that suited the client’s specific needs. It was designed as a cantilevered spanning scaffold extending from the grillage around Pier 10 and hanging from the protective barriers on the side of the bridge. This was a complex Layher scaffold design which had not been achieved before on the Westgate Bridge.
Pier 10 had four areas each with different design and work requirements.
- Area One involved a 21-metre span off the grillage which covered the spine of the Westgate Bridge using a new Layher system call flex beams. It could not be connected to the actual bridge structure of the scaffold as it had to be separate from areas Two, Three and Four which all came off the side of the bridge.
- Area Two was a waterfall effect coming from the side of the barriers on the east and west side of the bridge and cascading down towards Area One from the wings of the scaffold to the spine of bridge.
- Area Three came off the structural stairs and spanned out five metres with a cantilever of eight metre ladder beam going towards the north and south side of the bridge on Pier 10.
- Area Four had to be completed with flex beam drilled into top of Pier 10 and then cantilever out towards the west to create a one-piece scaffolding around the top of Pier 10 to cover all painting aspects of the project.
The Stilcon Scaffolding team acknowledged they were working on one of the most iconic structures in Melbourne. The complexity of all these elements and the ability to find solutions is what the Stilcon Scaffolding team pride themselves on, as this in turn benefits their clients on each project.
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