Image for Steel instrumental in Pacific Highway upgrade

A key section of the Pacific Highway upgrade is now underway with the help of prestressing strand supplied by Liberty OneSteel.

Liberty OneSteel is doing its part to improve travel times and maximise road safety in the north of New South Wales by supplying prestressing strand to the Woolgoolga to Ballina project.

The W2B project, as it is known, will upgrade about 155 kilometres of the Pacific Highway. It starts approximately six kilometres north of Woolgoolga (north of Coffs Harbour) and ends about six kilometres south of Ballina.

The $4.36 billion upgrade to one of the busiest highways in Australia is one of several key road-building programs overseen by the state’s Roads & Maritime Services authority and is a jointly funded initiative of the Australian and NSW governments.

Liberty OneSteel last week supplied the first of several batches of 15.7mm prestressing strand to Australian Precast Solutions (APS), Lendlease’s concrete precast facility in Macksville. APS will use the strand to manufacture over 2200 prestressed concrete planks for use in bridge construction along the Pacific Highway upgrade between Woolgoolga and Ballina. Liberty OneSteel expects to supply approximately 1700 tonnes of the strand to APS over the lifetime of the project.

Mark Schmakeit, Liberty OneSteel Market Manager – Wire, said Liberty OneSteel has worked with APS before on another stretch of the Pacific Highway, from the Oxley Highway/Pacific Highway Interchange to Kundabung (midway between Port Macquarie and Kempsey). The 23km upgrade to a four-lane divided highway involved duplication of parts of the existing highway, while also constructing a new alignment that traversed floodplains, soft soils and fragile environmental areas. He said the success of that collaboration assisted Liberty OneSteel in its bid to supply product to the W2B component of the Pacific Highway upgrade.

Schmakeit said where Liberty OneSteel brings significant value to the relationship with APS is in its ability to provide product on demand and without the overheads associated with bulk purchase and storage.  

“The supply of 1700 tonnes of product is pretty significant from a strand perspective,” Schmakeit said. “What Liberty OneSteel brings to the table is that APS doesn’t have to order, pay for and store all of the product we supply to them in one go. We’ll take the order and deliver it to them in truckload lots over the course of the project.”

The prestressing strand to be used in the W2B project starts life as high-carbon billet produced out of Liberty OneSteel’s Whyalla Steelworks. It’s rolled into rods at the company’s Newcastle Rod Mill, then turned into wire at the Newcastle Wire Mill. That wire is made into three-tonne spools of strand, which are then held in stock until required.

“Once we receive an order from APS, we can literally have a B-Double deliver a load of prestressing strand to the APS casting yard in Macksville within 4–6 days,” Schmakeit said.

He said the other obvious advantage in using Liberty OneSteel strand is that it is manufactured in accordance with AS 4672, thus giving customers such as APS a level of confidence not always possible when the strand is sourced from an overseas supplier.

“APS knows they’re receiving a high-quality product that meets the Australian Standard and that it’s third-party accredited by the Australian Certification Authority for Reinforcing Steel (ACRS),” he said. 

The 26km-long Woolgoolga to Glenugie stretch of the W2B project is expected to open late in 2017, while the 129km-long Glenugie to Ballina stretch is expected to open in 2020.

Photo: Trevor Veale / News Corp