Barron Gorge rock fall protections

A $3 MILLION rock fall protection wall on the Barron Gorge Rd, described as the first of its kind in north Queensland, has taken out two engineering awards.

The 90m long wall, which was two years in the design and engineering stage by PDR Engineers in Cairns, and took six months to build, was judged Engineers Australia Far North project of the year and took out the $1million to $5 million public works projects category at the Institute of Public Works Engineering Queensland Excellence Awards.

The judges said the construction was "an excellent example of a project where unique technical difficulties were overcome and the project was completed as planned with the minimum of disruption possible".

It's the only road access to the Baron Gorge hydroelectric power station "a steep and winding road with a steep rocky slope on one side and the gorge on the other" with 15 to 20 rock falls each year causing a constant danger.

"A permanent solution was needed to make the road safe for all users. This is a very difficult and constrained environment in which to work and a novel and ingenious solution was required," they said.

The judges said the solution consisted of a structure that would deflect and capture falling rocks, with 28 precast concrete and steel vertical columns anchored to the rock face, with 81 smaller panels forming the roof.

"Should one element of the structure be damaged in a rock fall, then it can be replaced relatively quickly and easily," they said.

"The adopted solution very neatly solves the problem and does not involve the complexity of building a visually obtrusive tunnel-like structure to protect the road from the rocks or a higher maintenance solution for stabilising the rock face."

Principal engineer Peter De Roma said it was a challenging job involving "a unique blend of geotechnical, structural and civil engineering elements".

He said it was a long structure located on a hazardous site and it was necessary to ensure there were risk-management strategies in place so no one got hurt.

Council infrastructure services general manager Bruce Gardiner said the structure was built in such a way that rock falls were deflected away from the gorge to minimise harm to users of the road and waterway.

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Cairns leading engineering services since 1999

PDR Engineers is a professional consultancy providing structural, civil, geotechnical and mining engineering services. It was established in 1999 by one of the firm’s Principals, Mr Peter De Roma whose expertise is predominantly in civil/structural design and construction of municipal infrastructure. Dr Terry Medhurst is the other principal, whose focus is on geotechnical engineering and design in mining and civil projects.

PDR Engineers key staff

As one of the largest employers of professional engineers in Cairns with approximately 200 years of combined experience our company has been instrumental in the successful completion of many of the regions landmark projects. We attribute our success to the leadership personnel we have that work efficiently in their roles to deliver the highest levels of professionalism on all works.

Office: Suite 62, Level 2,
20-32 Lake Street
Post: PO Box 2551,
Cairns QLD 4870
Tel: +61 7 4255 9800

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