RTA pursues transporter over bridge damage


RTA continues case against earthmoving transporter it alleges caused "millions of dollars" damage to bridge

By Brad Gardner | September 21, 2010

The NSW Supreme Court has upheld a transport company’s bid to lodge a counter claim against the Roads and Traffic Authority over a damaged bridge.

Justice Lucy McCallum accepted Barrie Toepfer Earthmoving’s bid to lodge a duty of care breach over structural damage caused to the Hexham Bridge over the Hunter River in 2003.

The RTA alleges an excavator on a truck owned by the company hit the overhead structures of the bridge, "causing damage that cost millions of dollars to repair".

Representatives for Barrie Toepfer Earthmoving say the damage was caused by contributory causation because an RTA officer ordered the truck driver Barry Luck to adjust the load prior to using the bridge.

"Barry Toepfer Earthmoving alleges that Mr Luck adjusted the load as directed and that, as a result of his doing so, the boom of the excavator then stood higher than it had when it was originally loaded onto the trailer," McCallum says.

"…until the excavator was moved in accordance with the direction of the authorised officer, the load was lower than the maximum height of clearance under the Hexham Bridge."

According to the company, the RTA officer knew or should have known the vehicle might use the Hexham Bridge and that reconfiguring the load would or might have caused it to hit the structure. It claims the road department failed to warn the driver about the danger or to direct him to avoid the bridge.

The RTA requested the claim be denied on the basis it was too vague.

"Although I accept that the net is cast wide in terms of alternative ways in which the case is put, the overall parameters of the factual contentions relied upon to sustain the claim are clear and are relatively confined," McCallum says.

"I am not satisfied that the claim for breach of duty of care at common law is so vague as to be liable to be struck out."

The RTA is seeking undisclosed repair costs from Barrie Toepfer Earthmoving and Luck under the Roads Act, which holds people liable for damaging public roads.


You can also follow our updates by joining our LinkedIn group or liking us on Facebook