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Protecting Victoria's most critical piece of infrastructure

Protecting Victoria's most critical piece of infrastructure

A Melbourne landmark, the West Gate Bridge is being completely re-painted for the first time in more than 40 years – with a coatings specification and products from Dulux Protective Coatings.

A complex infrastructure maintenance project

As one of the Victorian Department of Transport’s most high-profile assets, the West Gate Bridge serves as a critical link between Melbourne’s west and the CBD and carries more than 205,000 vehicles per day. Its re-paint is currently one of the largest steel repainting maintenance projects in Australia.

“The task of entirely re-painting the West Gate Bridge is a complex one," explains Daniel McKeown, Dulux Protective Coatings Specification and Projects Manager. "While VicRoads regularly inspects and paints sections of the bridge, this is the first time in four decades that the entire steel structure is being stripped and re-coated.”

The bridge was last coated in Dulux products, back in 1978.

The re-paint is being carried out by specialist protective coatings contractors McElligott Partners, for VicRoads and the Department of Transport. It's logistically challenging due to the bridge’s size, height (55 metres above ground level), shape and also the high wind factor.

“Each of the three sections of the bridge – the spine and two wing sections – is being prepared and re-painted in sections,” explains Daniel. “Access platforms allow the applicators to coat a single 120 – 150 sqm section of the bridge at a time. As each section is finished, the access platform must be re-located and structurally re-certified so that preparing and coating the next section can begin safely.”

At more than 900 metres long, it’s anticipated there will be at least 300 different platform moves to fully re-coat the entire bridge. With more than 55,000 sqms to re-paint, this significant project will take more than two-and-a-half years to complete.

“The project is about 70 per cent of the way through, and due to be finished by the end of 2021,” explains Daniel.

Achieving a highly durable coatings system

Choosing the coatings system for the West Gate Bridge re-paint was an exhaustive task.

“McElligotts Partners conducted extensive product trials, looking at the application, dry times and damage-resistance of a range of products from multiple suppliers," says Daniel. "Dulux Protective Coatings was chosen for our exceptional product performance and durability as well as our record of service and technical support.”

The coatings system devised by Dulux Protective Coatings factors in the bridge’s location. As well as being buffeted by high winds, the bridge sustains large traffic volumes, which produce significant pollution and grime.

A four-part + stripe coat system was specified. Zincanode 402 is the primer and first coat. This two pack epoxy zinc rich primer is ideal for use over abrasive blast cleaned steel surfaces. A second coat of a surface tolerant epoxy Durebild STE is followed by a third coat of Durebild STE MIO. A final coat of Weathermax HBR MIO ensures a high build finish.

“While the coatings are typically applied using spray guns, an additional stripe coat, applied with brushes, provides extra protection on areas of the bridge such as bolt heads,” explains Daniel, who is regularly on site to provide technical support and product advice to the applicators and project team.

“Our sophisticated coating system provides a superior level durability and will help the West Gate Bridge look good for another 40 years!”

Stay tuned for further updates on the progress of this major re-paint project. Get in touch with the Dulux Protective Coatings team for expert specification and application support on your next major coatings project.

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