A prominent engineer has expressed concern that the new Perth Stadium footbridge has not been approved by local engineers as structurally sound and it may fail when under load endangering thousands of WA sports fans. The steel cable-stay bridge is being constructed in Malaysia with Chinese steel and local in Perth engineers have questioned the integrity of the welds. The concerns regarding the safety of the bridge are based on the fact there currently exists no requirement for something constructed overseas to be signed off on structural integrity by an Australian engineer in Western Australia, the only state not to have such a requirement.
The distinctive ribbon bridge is costing $54 million and will span a length of 400m bank to bank and be 65m tall at its highest point. Main Roads decided to outsource the construction of the bridge to overseas contractors after local contractors could not compete on price and stated that some of the required steel components are not manufactured by Australian steel mills. It needs to be noted however that those components could have still been outsourced from overseas while the majority of the steel and workmanship could have been performed by Australian workers.
The concerns regarding structural integrity were raised by Chris Walton, CEO of Association of Professional Engineers (APEA). It is estimated the bridge will be carrying up to approximately 14,000 individuals at a given time during an event and Mr Walton has expressed his concern that the welds performed in Malaysia may not be strong enough and should they fail the bridge may collapse into the Swan River. Other members of APEA share his concerns.
Main Roads has hit back at these claims assuring that quality control is being carried out by professionals from the Welding Technology Institute of Australia who have been on-site in Malaysia to oversee the fabrication works. Regardless, Main Roads is a government department and should have put Western Australians first; even an increased initial cost would have eventually been offset by the monetary injection it would have made into WA industries.