Website Banner. John Monash: Engineering enterprise prior to World War 1.

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Baranduda Bridge 1918
Load Test 1997
(alias Kiewa Valley Highway Bridge or Yackandandah Bridge)

Barandudah Bridge overgrown following replacement by a modern bridge (glimpsed on left) and prior to testing.
Photo: Geoff Taplin 1997.

Monash's involvement

On 29 July 1914, Monash wrote a memo for himself. A Shire Engineer had evidently enquired about the cost of a reinforced concrete bridge. "Re Baranduda Bridge. Mr Travers calls. 150 feet long, 2 or 3 spans. 18 feet wide. Inasmuch as another Firm, whose name he cannot remember, has written to him about the bridge and special reinforcements which they have to sell, Mr Travers readily yielded to my suggestion that he should advertise the work locally only, and allow a very short time for tenders to be prepared, so that it will be difficult for others to compete."

(This ploy had been frequently used against RCMPC in country shires to ensure that local firms won bridge contracts. In letters attached to unsuccessful tenders in the Quotation Files, Monash or his senior engineers complain about the impossibility of completing a design and lodging a tender within the time permitted. Of course, Shire Engineers were by this time beginning to prepare reinforced concrete designs themselves, so the local contractor needed time only to calculate his price for the job.)

A few weeks after this, Monash took over as Chief Censor for Australia (see Serle, pp. 202-203) a job he described as 'most worrying, anxious and strenuous'. It is therefore likely that he left the detailed design of the Baranduda bridge to his senior engineers.

Load test to failure

The old bridge was by-passed in 1952 by a new construction, seen in the background of the Figure below. Faced with a large number of ageing bridges designed to obsolete standards and subjected to increasing traffic loads, the state road authority of Victoria, VicRoads, decided to test the actual strength of such bridges by conducting a load test to failure of the Baranduda Bridge. One of the main concerns was the shear strength of the girders, because the design theory employed early in the history of reinforced concrete was known to have been faulty. However, the hope was that the test would prove that such bridges had greater resistance in fact than indicated by current theory. This proved to be the case. [Link.]

Barandudah Bridge. Testing rig under preparation 1997.
Modern bridge in the background. Photo: Geoff Taplin.

Barandudah Bridge after testing.
Shear (or diagonal tension) cracks have appeared. Photo: Geoff Taplin.

Postscript

The bridge built c1952 to replace the RCMPC bridge suffered flood damage in 2011 and has since been replaced. Ironically, the old one though sacrificed to science has outlasted it!