By Harry Watson Smith of the Batemans Bay Boaters Association
The old Batemans Bay bridge is NOT falling down. It has shown great resilience to the efforts of the demolition company who are all over it in high vis vests, cranes, barges and specialist equipment. The company has already removed kilometres of electrical wires, some pipes and other odds and ends. Next will be the sections between the piers. The major challenge will be the lifting section. Will they blow the white operators hut apart in situ or will they attempt to demolish it at a great height? Alternatively they may well just lift it up and put it down on the northern shoreline to be cut up with some chain saw. A very sad day for us boat owners who remember the days when we use to talk to the operator on the VHF radio and request a lift and then await instructions as who could proceed first. The tricky bit will be the two large counter weights which have a greater mass than the original design specified. That was due to the fact that when they were to be built the steel fabrication firm did not have the original source of steel and had to use a lower quality with a different strength to weight ratio so that road section was made heavier than the original specifications. When they attached the two counter eights to the road lift section and threw the switch to lift it, it just sat there and did not move. So they had to add a large quantity of pig iron on top of the counter weights to get the balance right. Now that iron has been sitting in the salt sea air for more than 50 years and is now a single rusted piece. Will the demolition company attempt to remove these rusted pieces of iron as a unit or will they lift and remove the two counter weights in two operations? They are heavy in excess of 34 tonnes (I think) each, so it will definitely test the crane and the operation. The next challenge will be the removal of the many piers sunk deep into the river bed. We understand some will be pulled up while others will be cut off level with the sea floor, but they will be removed because the turbulence they cause creates erosion on the north shore and that has washed away the shore line. I trust that the drone photographers keep us informed and record this sad moment when our beautiful (operating) bridge is finally trucked away to some foreign graveyard to be used as scrap iron.
Photo courtesy of South Coast Pix