Austroads moots faster bridge assessments

New framework aims to simplify and clarify the process of allowing trucks across bridges

Austroads moots faster bridge assessments
The report cover


Austroads has recently developed a new framework that it says could save many heavy vehicle operators the time, effort and expense of bridge capacity assessments.

At present, the first tier of performance-based standards used in these decisions approximates the MS18 design load.

Vehicles with greater load effects than this are forced into a more rigorous process, differing state by state and often also by local council region.

The result has been an expensive, unpredictable, and unclear system of assessments, the association of Australasian road transport and traffic agencies says.

The new Austroads framework uses a much simpler line model comparison, such that bridges throughout the country will be rated on the same scale, the organisation points out.

It provides a set of nationally consistent loading service levels that each bridge’s managing jurisdiction can use in its assessments.

Each loading service level consists of a loading configuration including a primary reference vehicle (chosen using a simple line model to compare the vehicle to the various service levels and co-existing vehicles).

Load effects are calculated and compared to the bridge capacity to determine the maximum loading service level that the bridge can safely withstand.

The system would be suitable to use online, through a dedicated portal hosted by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.

With 24-hour access and immediate feedback, applicants will be quickly and easily able to fine tune their vehicle configurations and routes.

Austroads says the project focused exclusively on developing the framework, and operated between July 2011 and this month. A follow-up project has now been enacted.

"The next stage of work will be to set service levels and select reference vehicles, configurations and associated load factors with the jurisdictions," it noted.

The project is scheduled to be completed by mid-2017, with hopes for approval and sign-off from each of the eight state and territory jurisdictions.

The report can be found here:  Review of Axle Spacing Mass Schedules and Future Framework for Assessment of Heavy Vehicle Access Applications




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