Since 2002, “educated rumours” have been whispered concerning what’s termed “concrete cancer” affecting the Tasman Bridge.
This is where the steel reinforcing in the concrete rusts away in the pylons below the waterline leaving hollows in the concrete.
Monitoring is ongoing and very hush-hush.
It’s the same condition which required the replacement of the old Midway Point bridge.
If the sunken ship Lake Illawarra* or any other ship sailing under the span ever nudged the bridge its a foregone conclusion that the “cancerous” pylons would give way.
Elsewhere: Expert warns Australian bridges may fall
A large section of the Tasman Bridge collapsed following the ramming of pylons by the bulk ore ship ‘MV Lake Illawarra’ on the night of January 5, 1975.
At 9.28 pm that night the ship struck pylons 18 and 19 on the eastern end of the bridge bringing down, from high above, three spans (totalling 127 metres) of the roadway, some of which fell across her deck. Seven members of the ship’s crew and five motorists in cars crossing the bridge were killed. Then, the ship listed to starboard and sank in deep water a short distance to the south. The bridge was eventually repaired but the ship remained where it sank.
Massive dislocation, cost and inconvenience resulted from the loss of the city’s vital link which also carried water pipes and power cables. A ferry service sprang up immediately and in December a single lane Bailey bridge was completed further upstream (at the site of the present-day Bowen Bridge). These measures served Hobart until the bridge was re-opened about two years after the accident. Years later, in 1984, the Bowen Bridge provided another link between the eastern and western shores.
The Tasman Bridge rebuilding cost alone, was estimated at $18m (1977 values). The total estimated cost of the disaster to the community was $44million (1977 values).
An inquiry found the Captain of the ‘Lake Illawarra’ had been off course, partly due to tidal currents and partly due to inattention. A pilot service was introduced for all ships passing under the bridge following the findings.
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Apropos the Minneapolis bridge collapse. There are some very, very concerned engineers within the Tasmanian Department of Infrastructure.