Located at the mouth of the Barwon River, the Barwon Heads Bridge is an essential link in the road network of the Bellarine Peninsula.
The existing road bridge, originally built in 1927, was rapidly reaching the end of its operational life, with a 2006 bridge inspection revealing that the bridge had just four to six more working years. The inspection identified extensive deterioration of the concrete deck, rotting and splitting of timber, rotting and cracking of piles, walers and cross-bracing and rusting and pitting of the steel beams. During this time, the load limit was reduced from 44 tonnes to 16 tonnes.
- Construction in two stages of a road bridge in timber, steel and concrete;
- Construction of a pedestrian bridge in concrete with timber cladding and later a timber deck;
- Construction and later removal of temporary road connections to each end of the pedestrian bridge; and installation and later removal of safety barriers on each bridge to accommodate temporary user configurations in addition to permanent safety barriers.
- Construction of the pedestrian bridge in its interim arrangement, construction of the southern portion of the road bridge with temporary barriers for vehicles and pedestrians and construction of road approaches to both bridges. Traffic is then diverted to these structures.
- Dismantling of the existing bridge and construction of the remaining portion of the bridge;
- Relocation of temporary pedestrian barriers on the road bridge and diversion of traffic onto this structure; and construction of timber decking, pedestrian barriers and lighting on the pedestrian bridge, the temporary barrier removed from the road bridge, the final asphalt pavement laid and final line marking placed.
The bridge carries vehicle, pedestrian and bike traffic, and is also used for fishing. Regarded by the local community as a popular landmark, the bridge was widely recognised for its feature in the popular ABC television series, SeaChange. It is also listed on the Victorian Heritage Register and cannot simply be demolished and replaced.
In May 2009, the Victorian Government, with VicRoads, awarded McConnell Dowell the contract to provide the new crossing of the Barwon River at Barwon Heads/Ocean Grove.
To ensure the design selected would be supported by the local community, the client undertook extensive community consultation. Heritage overlays were applied to the project to ensure community expectations around historic preservation of the original bridge were met, with the preference for use of reclaimed timbers in the new bridge structure.