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Rain Botches Bridge’s New Coating Job

Monday, February 27, 2012

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Mother Nature is taking the rap for putting a damper on a $3.5 million waterproofing project on Australia’s iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Bridge officials have reported “several defects in the road surface” that was upgraded last month as part of a major weatherproofing project for the steel through arch bridge and its approaches.

 Sydney Harbour Bridge

 Sydneyrocks.org

Built in 1932, the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge—known to locals as “the coathanger”—is the world’s widest long-span bridge and tallest steel arch bridge, measuring 440 feet from the top to the water.

The waterproofing project, needed to prevent corrosion, was conducted in January when the holiday season meant 30,000 fewer people each day on the span, officials said. Work on the 1932 structure—3,770 feet long and 161 feet wide—was completed on Jan. 22.

By mid-February, however, cracks had erupted, and crews from New South Wales Transport were temporarily closing lanes to make repairs.

Heavy Rain Cited

The project was supposed to have been done in dry weather, to allow sufficient drying time. However, Sydney experienced the wettest January in 11 years, followed by severe thunderstorms in early February.

“Unfortunately, the heavy rain on the first weekend of work and subsequent wet weather of the past few days has caused water pockets to form and create cracks in several areas on the top layer of the asphalt,” an NSW Transport spokeswoman said.

“It is important to fix the defects before they become more of a problem and form potholes.”

She added: “We had several hours of heavy rain the first weekend of the upgrade and, unfortunately, it appears moisture has been trapped under the asphalt in a couple of areas.

“While it is not ideal to lay asphalt in wet weather, we dried the surface as thoroughly as possible and continued to apply the seal to ensure the job was completed and the bridge reopened to traffic on schedule.”

Seal Called Intact

The defects are superficial and “have not threatened the integrity of the waterproof seal,” the spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile, the agency “will continue to monitor the surface of the bridge and approaches for any further defects.”

The project was announced in November, when New South Wales Roads Minister Duncan Gay told reporters that the “old coathanger”—as the bridge is fondly known to locals—was “frankly a bit of a mess at the moment, right down to the membrane.”

“That dear lady, 80 years young, needs this overhaul like all hell,” Gay said.

   

Tagged categories: Bridge/parking deck waterproofing; Bridges; Corrosion; Curing; Waterproofing

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