EIGHT months of works on the Beaufort Rail Bridge were completed this week, bringing the 53-year-old bridge in-line with modern safety standards.
Upgrades on the bridge, located on the Western Highway about one kilometre west of Beaufort, have been ongoing since January and included strengthening the bridge’s maximum load capacity to 110 tonnes, as well as upgrading the kerb and guardrail.
The works ensure it can continue to be a vital link along the Western Highway, Federal Member for Wannon Dan Tehan said.
“Built in 1965, the Beaufort Rail Bridge is a crucial link for communities along the Western Highway and this upgrade ensures higher capacity freight vehicles can travel over the bridge more safely,” Mr Tehan said.
Victorian Roads and Road Safety Minister Luke Donnellan said after more than 50 years, the bridge structure was due for a much-needed upgrade.
“We’ve built a safer, stronger and more reliable Beaufort bridge for the thousands of locals, producers and freight vehicles that travel and rely on this route every day,” Mr Donnellan said.
“Strengthening the bridge means the Western Highway can continue to function as one of Victoria's most productive transport routes serving our farming, tourism and manufacturing industries.”
Announced in November last year, the $2.5 million project was initially expected to span 12 weeks, but took eight months to complete.
Regional Roads Victoria said the delay was due to discrepancies between the original plans, which were more than 50 years old, and the physical structure of the bridge which were only discovered once the upgrade commenced.
Speed limit restrictions and lane closures created lengthy delays during peak traffic times, forcing VicRoads to reassess its traffic management.
However, now the bridge works are complete traffic will flow as normal.
The Beaufort Rail Bridge upgrade is part of the $659.7 million Western Highway – Ballarat to Stawell Duplication project, to which the Australian Government has committed $499.4 million and the Victorian Government $160.3 million.