Monash Civil Engineering efficiently responds to level crossing Superload challenge

Monash Civil Engineering recently demonstrated how valuable it is as a partner to industry.

In a critical stage in the Level Crossing Removal Program, structural engineers from Monash University applied their unique expertise assisting authorities to safely transport heavy loads across a number of Melbourne bridges.

The North Western Project Alliance (a partnership between the Level Crossing Removal Authority, KBR, Metro Trains Melbourne and John Holland) approached structural engineers at Monash Civil Engineering to assist them to move 24 u-trough beams — each load weighing 400 tonnes (including all the vehicles) — by truck from Kilmore, north of Melbourne, to Frankston.

The enormous beams were used to construct the elevated rail, required as part of the program for removing level crossings in Southeast Melbourne, being delivered to the Level Crossing Removal Authority (LXRA).

A fixed route between Kilmore and Frankston was determined which involved 24 Superload trucks crossing six bridges not previously exposed to this level of repetitive loading.

Monash Civil Engineers designed and installed real-time monitoring on each bridge, every design unique to each location depending on the bridge’s design and age. The monitoring systems were installed under the constraints of a fully operational road system including requirements for road closures on major freeways.

The North Western Program Alliance employed the Monash team and facilitated access for all installation and monitoring, including supplying equipment on site at each move and ensuring the safety of all Monash participants.

Alliance Manager Ben Ryan expressed his thanks to the Monash team for way in which they went about their work.

“Monash was an obvious choice for us, they have all the expertise and technology we required in-house and the capacity to deliver what was needed,” he said.

Dr Colin Caprani

Monash efficiently provided expert staff, graduate engineers and equipment to meet the VicRoads requirements to undertake real time monitoring on the nominated six bridges, to verify that they had not been damaged and could carry a similar load the following night — a condition from VicRoads for the permit to move the loads on the designated route. Real-time monitoring of some of the bridges is ongoing and Monash staff are still collaborating with partners to further knowledge across agencies.

The project was a major opportunity for Monash’s highly-skilled Civil Engineering postgraduate students to apply their lab experiences to the challenge the u-troughs presented. Dr Colin Caprani said “these graduate engineers are adaptable and learn quickly on site. They are capable of using advanced technology to deliver on the client’s immediate needs”.

“Their lab experience was vital to quickly verify field results, drawing on the theoretical work they had undertaken in the past”, he explains.

By collaborating to safely transfer such large loads over sensitive structures, the Alliance were able to deliver the elevated rail faster to facilitate the removal of several level crossings in Melbourne’s southeast earlier than would have otherwise been possible if the u-trough beams had been constructed on-site in Frankston.

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