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Infrastructure and Transport – Works on the Tasman Bridge

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Tags: Infrastructure

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, I wanted to talk to you about a subject that is of great interest and concern to both of us and that is the works on the Tasman Bridge. I want to thank Ms McIntyre for the briefing we received the other day on the works, but some issues that have been raised with us by cyclists about the proposed remedy for cycling. I will quote quickly from a letter by Mr Rick Coyle of Margate who is a former qualified structural engineer and he says -

I understand that the engineers are worried about additional lateral loading on the bridge due to a large blank wall being presented on the windward side. Also, a bluff body will create turbulence at its top and bottom as the wind flows over and under and it will not be a good experience for cyclists or pedestrians trying to shelter behind flat vertical shields unless it is very high,

but he says -

this turbulence can be mitigated by shape and slots, thus reducing the required high of the shield and the lateral loading on the bridge.

He goes on to point out that wind tunnel testing he believes is essential to make sure we get the infrastructure right so it is a positive experience for cyclists, but more importantly is truly safe.

Mr FERGUSON - Thank you, Ms O'Connor, for your comments, especially the support you have offered for the project and the need for it.

Ms O'CONNOR - 100 per cent. A critical infrastructure project.

Mr FERGUSON - It is and I wish we could have done it sooner and we all do. It is an exciting time because we are now progressing with it and delighted in an incredible space of time following our engineering and preliminary design works we did; the Morrison Government came in more or less like a flash with their share of 50 per cent of the funding for the project. Your question goes immediately to the design principles that need to be followed and I am happy for my trusty acting general manager of State Roads to respond further about how we will finalise the design in a way that ensures it is safe for pedestrians and cyclists using the side pathway.

Ms McINTYRE - In terms of the design, I assume that Rick has seen the urban design that was created at the artist impression?

Ms O'CONNOR - Yes, I think that worried him a bit.

Ms McINTYRE - That is understood and it was an idea of what the bridge design could potentially look like. Obviously, the safety, particularly with regards to wind force for cyclists and pedestrians is a major consideration for the pathway design and development and feedback such as Mr Coyle's will be considered as part of the design development.

Ms O'CONNOR - I thank you Ms McIntyre. We can ascertain that the artist's designs that appeared in the media will not be the final design of the infrastructure?

Mr FERGUSON - That's correct.

Ms O'CONNOR - One of the matters raised in this correspondence that I have is the need for there to be enough widths in those flanking structures on the bridge for cyclists to potentially to pass each other, but also it's really important to Mr Coyle, and I think to getting the design right, that there be wind tunnel testing. I guess that's the answer I didn't get to the previous question about whether there will be some really rigorous wind tunnel testing on that bridge, given how high it is and, as you know, minister, how potentially unsafe it is for cyclists on a windy day.

Mr FERGUSON - Great. I can definitely confirm for you that the impression you've seen in the images we've released are indicative only, the concept. We have had some significant and important work done on the engineering, which has led us to the overall project being designed, which we took to the federal government for funding.

The first priority we must achieve is the bridge strengthening project, which will then provide for the bridge to be able to carry the extra pathways, the weight of them and also the wind shear. They are concept, in terms of what they look like. They will end up looking different because they have not yet gone through that detailed design phase.

I can inform you, and you will be pleased, in terms of width of those pathways, 3.5 metres, which is the same width that you drive in a lane on the Midland Highway.

Ms O'CONNOR - Could you go to the issue - I am just trying to ascertain whether there will be wind tunnel testing?

Mr FERGUSON - I will pass to Gary Swain, deputy secretary, and Denise, if she has anything further to add.

Mr SWAIN - Just going to your point there is an analogy here with the Bridgewater Bridge where for a big project like this, or any project, but particularly a big project, we'll put a lot of effort into what's called the functional specifications. That will say what functions does the bridge solution need to meet, and the high function, which in this case will be, cycling amenity. Along with that also we are also very conscious that this infrastructure project will need to accommodate a range of different speeds and uses. We'll have pedestrians, we might have casual cyclists, we might have electric bikes, we might have scooters. So part of the conceptualisation of 3.5 metres either side was to leave some capacity and room to address those various needs.

If we, which you will need to do, address that succinctly in our functional specification that will require anyone who bids for the jobs to show how they will address it and I would expect that some wind analysis will be a key part of that.