The Peak Downs Highway, across the Eton Ranges, is the only B-double heavy truck access to the northern Bowen area and currently sees 4,000 vehicles – 800 of them heavy trucks – using the road every day. The government wishes to improve the highway so Type 1 Road Trains can use it, cars can overtake heavy trucks and the Range road doesn’t have to be closed for oversize loads. Currently, the road from Mackay to Nebo is a two-lane, featuring tight corners and a steep gradient.
Currently it carries 4,000 vehicles – including 800 heavy trucks – every day. The government wishes to improve the highway so Type 1 Road Trains can use it, cars can overtake heavy trucks and the Range road doesn’t have to be closed for oversized loads. Currently, it’s a two-lane, hampered by tight corners and a steep gradient.
In December 2015, construction and engineering company Fulton Hogan won the contract to realign and widen the Peak Downs Highway at Eton Range, into a dual-carriageway. As well as widening the road, the improvement would include a gradient reduction from 11.5 per cent to 7.5 per cent.
Kiran Alavala, project manager on the Eton Range project for Fulton Hogan, says the duplication works for the Peak Downs Highway are being carried out over the steepest and most winding two kilometres of the Eton Range section of highway.
“The road is 250 metres above sea level and it’s steep and narrow,” says Alavala. “Because we’re keeping the road open while we carry out the works, we need to protect the workers on the downhill sides of the road, and also provide safety to the road users. There are long drops off the side of this highway.”
Fulton Hogan had to install a 2,300 metre safety barrier and they engaged Coates Hire to install a solution - the BG 800 steel-barrier system. Rodney Whipp – Coates Hire’s Queensland Product Specialist, Traffic – says the BG 800 was specified by Fulton Hogan’s engineers because its ‘performance’ could be modified and it had faster installation times than the equivalent concrete safety barriers.
“The BG 800 barrier looks like the concrete version,” says Whipp. “But it’s made of steel, making it much lighter than concrete. We can get 100 metres of BG 800 on each truck whereas we can only get a maximum of 60 metres of concrete barrier on each truck.”
Importantly, says Whipp, Fulton Hogan needed a barrier rated for 80 km/h impact, from trucks as well as cars and it needed to be secure in tight corners.
Coates Hire uses specialist employees to install BG 800 and its impact rating can be improved by the installation.
“We can raise the impact rating of the BG 800 depending on how we space the holding pins that are drilled and driven into the road,” says Whipp. “With concrete you can’t do that.”
Fulton Hogan’s Kiran Alavala says BG 800 provides better protection for workers because of its high impact rating; it can also be installed around sharp turns and still retain its deflection qualities.
“Given the number of sharp turns in the road and the number of trucks operating on it, we needed the right safety barrier system.”