When the Fiji Roads Authority (FRA) released a request for tender in 2013 to build four bridges in Fiji, Fletcher Construction was quick to put their hat in the ring. With 70 years of experience building in the South Pacific, they were an obvious choice for the project, and engaged sister company CSP Pacific who has been exporting to Fiji for over 20 years to supply guardrail for all four structures. Three years later and the four new bridges have been completed - an impressive five months ahead of schedule.
“We have been exporting our products to the South Pacific for over 20 years - mainly Fiji, Samoa and Solomon Islands - so of course we were eager to be involved in this project,” explains Sue Walker, Technical Support & Marketing Manager for CSP Pacific.
“All of the bridges were seriously past their ‘use by’ dates and were in need of replacement,” says Dave Kidd, Project Manager for Fletcher Construction (Fiji). “We won the $16 million contract for the four bridges - two of which are close to Suva, one is between Sigatoka and Nadi and the last - the Cogeloa Bridge - is located in Labasa, Vanua Levu.”
The existing wooden, single lane, 59.5m long Cogeloa Bridge was considered especially unsafe for traffic, with an increasing number of vehicles using the unstable structure, particularly during the sugarcane harvest. “These local communities also needed safe, reliable access to the medical facilities, schools and markets located across the river,” adds Dave.
Each of the new bridges was to include a single vehicle lane, a rail line and a pedestrian pathway. “We were able to use the same design with slight modifications for each depending on the location,” says Dave. “For this project myself and one other person were seconded to Fiji for the duration of the project and the rest of the team was made up of locals. It was essential that we got these bridges built as fast as possible to avoid the wet season and minimise disruption to the sugarcane farmers and school children who crossed the bridge daily.”
Construction of Cogeloa Bridge began in April 2016. It is made of reinforced locally-sourced concrete with pre-stressed bridge beams produced at the Fletcher pre-casting bed in Suva. Reinforced concrete piles formed within a sacrificial steel casing complete the structure. The 100-year life specification means that it must weather Fiji’s tropical conditions, including a one in 100-year flood. However the designers went a step further designing the bridge to also survive a one in 1000-year seismic event.
“We supplied Fiji Roads Authority standard specification guardrail for all four bridges and approaches, including end terminals,” says Sue. “We also helped them out with technical support and sending the fixings early so they could pour the bridge deck ahead of the installation of the barrier.”
“I haven’t worked with CSP Pacific before,” says Dave. “However they were very helpful. Sue helped us with all the info we needed and instructions for installation. It all went together well.”
The new bridge, which was scheduled for completion in February 2017, was completed in half the time, five months ahead of schedule and well ahead of the wet season.