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Civmec collaboration completes bridge

19 June 2018

Key Information

Event-goers heading to award-winning Optus Stadium can now walk to the stadium precinct from the city via a striking new bridge made possible by structural steel.

The final piece of the Optus Stadium jigsaw has been put in place with the opening of the pedestrian bridge connecting the stadium precinct in Burswood with East Perth. The $91.5 million Matagarup Bridge spans 370 metres across the Swan River and will play an important role in facilitating foot traffic to and from the new stadium.

With the bridge now open, football fans and concert goers can see for themselves the flowing structure of the bridge as it was imagined by the designers. The inspiration for the innovative design is open to interpretation, but it’s easy to imagine the form of a black swan, Western Australia’s state emblem, in the graceful lines of the bridge.

The new structure is also a fitting counterpart to the award-winning Optus Stadium itself, both in its aesthetic appeal and its technical precision. Approximately 1500 tonnes of high-quality steel has been used in the bridge, of which 900 tonnes is seamless pipe, as well as 1.6km of piles and 1.5km of steel cabling and strip lighting. By way of comparison, InfraBuild Steel Centre (formerly LIBERTY OneSteel Metalcentre) supplied approximately 16,000 tonnes of steel for use in the construction of the five-level Optus Stadium superstructure.

The opening of the bridge has been eagerly awaited after it encountered a major hurdle in its construction. The bridge was originally due to open at the end of 2016, but problems with the fabrication of steel components by a joint venture based in Malaysia led to the WA state government handing the contract to Henderson-based fabricator Civmec.

InfraBuild Steel Centre’s Hakan Magill says the decision was a boon for local industry, but put pressure on all parties involved to deliver to the revised timeline. He says InfraBuild Steel Centre’s close relationship with Civmec, and its proven record with them, helped the company win the supply contract, but that it then had to rise to the challenge.

900 tonnes of pipe were supplied within a tight 10-week window 

“We had to supply 900 tonnes of pipe within a very tight 10-week window to facilitate Civmec meeting their deadline to build the arches,” Hakan says. He adds that the company has been more than just a straight steel supplier to Civmec. “I’m embedded in the Civmec office and worked closely with the project managers to meet the demands of the build,” he says. “It meant that we were able to respond not only quickly, but accurately, to Civmec’s needs.”

Matagarup Bridge under construction

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti told WA Today in May that all the parties associated with the build have pulled together to complete the bridge under immense time pressure.

“This is one of the most technically difficult constructions ever undertaken in WA and the local workforce has done an outstanding job to get the project this far in less than a year,” she said. “We inherited a difficult design that was stalled, but the local workers have embraced the challenge and the end is finally in sight.”

Fabrication and erection

Fabrication of the bridge’s steel components was carried out at Civmec’s Henderson facility before the components were transported to the stadium’s Burswood site in August 2017.

The structure’s pre-fabricated steel arches were hoisted into place above the Swan River late in March 2018. At 19 metres in length, each arch had to be floated to the centre of the river on barges before being lifted into place. Two wishbone components were also installed and welded after cables from lifting towers had been untensioned, leaving the arches freestanding. The bridge decking began installation from mid-May.

Hakan says he’s proud of the way challenges were overcome to keep the project on track. In January of this year the WA government confirmed that modifications made to the design would allow for climbing tours of the bridge similar to those offered by the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The Matagarup Bridge, at 64 metres tall, stands at just under half the height of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which measures 134 metres.

“When the design change took place, we had to adapt and find new material to supply,” Hakan says. It was a challenge for us, but it was hard for Civmec too as they had begun to fabricate components already. But we’ve kept the project on track – and the advantage now is that the climbing tours will provide a great tourism opportunity for the bridge.”

Up to 14,000 fans are expected to use Matagarup Bridge on match and event days.