Specialised crew repairs old timber bridges

Council’s bridge crew (l-r) Hunter Cole, Tyrell Howard, Reece Maughan and Patrick Tanna.
Council’s bridge crew, from left: Hunter Cole, Tyrell Howard, Reece Maughan and Patrick Tanna.

The specialised skills of Bundaberg Regional Council’s bridge crew are significantly reducing repair costs and extending the life of timber bridges up to 80 years old.

The small crew is tasked with maintaining more than 160 bridges and major culverts, but timber bridge repairs are where their skills really shine.

Roads and Drainage portfolio spokesperson Cr Bill Trevor said Council was currently working to repair two timber bridges — the Perry River Bridge built in 1938 and the St Agnes Bridge which dates back to 1945. 

“These bridges provide vital links for local agriculture and forestry industries as well as for residents in the area,” Cr Trevor said.

“Council is lucky to have the talent we have within our roads crew and this team deserves a pat on the back.

“The work they have been doing on our timber bridges is absolutely fantastic.

“They are able to extend the life of those bridges with their specialised skills, techniques and materials at a much cheaper cost to the ratepayer than if we had to replace them entirely.”

Bridge carpentry skills rare

Qualified bridge carpenters are rare but Council has been fortunate to have had these skills at hand for about 13 years through supervisor Hunter Cole.

He is the only bridge carpenter with a Level 2 qualification in Council.

“We have a good team and we support each other,” Hunter said.

“It’s a hard day’s work. Our job is constant and heavy and when you’re working with two tonne girders and slinging cranes, there’s a high safety risk.

“Things can get a bit hairy at times and we make sure we do our pre-start risk assessments and keep communicating during the job.”

Hunter is a mentor for his hard-working team which includes Reece Maughan, Patrick Tanna and Noel Smith.

“These blokes aren’t afraid of hard work and when doing flood gate repairs they don’t question the 3am starts required to fit in with the tides,” he said.