Holt-Bragg Bridge is an arch bridge that crosses Piles Creek at Somersby on the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia as part of the Pacific Highway. It was opened on 30 June 2009 as a replacement for the previous bridge that collapsed two years earlier during severe weather. The bridge is named in honour of the five people who perished when the bridge collapsed.
|Locale||Somersby, Central Coast|
|Official name||Holt-Bragg Bridge|
|Maintained by||Central Coast Council|
|Opened||30 June 2009|
The Pacific Highway is the main road link from Sydney to Brisbane and travels alongside the coast. The section from Cowan to Kariong, where the Holt-Bragg Bridge is, follows a scenic winding route, however, with the majority of traffic using the Pacific Motorway.
The original bridge was built around 1930 when the new road linking Sydney to Newcastle was opened. It replaced the road via Wisemans Ferry that had become inadequate and meant that the majority of travel was made by railway or sea. It is located roughly on the original track from Hornsby to Kariong constructed by George Peat in 1854 that was closed in 1899.
On 8 June 2007 the Central Coast was battered by strong winds and torrential rain caused by an intense low pressure system a short distance out to sea. The damage as a result of these storms resulted in them being declared a natural disaster. At approximately 4pm the road above Piles Creek gave way, leaving a 5-metre-wide (16 ft) by 10-metre-deep (33 ft) fissure. Shortly afterwards, Adam Holt failed to stop and the car fell into the creek. Holt, along with his girlfriend Roslyn Bragg, their daughters Madison and Jasmine and nephew Travis Bragg were all killed.
A coroner's inquest was established to discover the cause of deaths. It found that the failure of the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) and Gosford City Council to take action or initiative to fix problems with the bridge led to the collapse.
The bridge was first identified as being in need of maintenance in 1984 when an RTA scientific officer had drawn attention to the corrosion of galvanised iron pipes used in the culvert. In 1995, responsibility for the road was transferred from the RTA to Gosford City Council; however, the problems with the section were not identified to council engineers. In April 2000 the bridge slumped, however nothing was done to alleviate the problem until 2002 when the council requested an estimation for a major reconstruction of the culvert. In 2004, pavement repairs triggered a request by the council to ask for quotes for concrete lining of the culvert with tenders called. However, the information was not entered into the record system and no follow up action was taken.
The replacement bridge was opened on 30 June 2009. The bridge was designed and constructed by the RTA at a cost of A$1.9 million and responsibility for maintenance of the bridge is with the Central Coast Council (formerly the Gosford City Council) since its opening. The RTA named the bridge the Holt-Bragg Bridge in memory of the deceased. Two bronze commemorative plaques are located at either end of the bridge on Somersby sandstone.
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