Practicing Preparedness: Charles Street Bridge to close for flood exercise

Practicing Preparedness: Charles Street Bridge to close for flood exercise

The City of Launceston will close the Charles Street Bridge for up to four hours next Thursday evening as part of a flood preparedness exercise.

The bridge will be closed from 6pm on Thursday, August 24, as Council officers set up the Bauer flood gate, with a detours in place across the Tamar Street Bridge during the exercise.

City of Launceston Mayor Matthew Garwood said that Council undertakes flood gate testing every few years so that emergency response crews are fully versed on how the flood gates are installed and set up.

“This allows them to experience first-hand what work needs to be undertaken, how the gates are installed, and what equipment is required,” Mayor Garwood said. “It’s vitally important that our officers are familiar with the installation and set-up of these gates in the lead-up to any potential major flood event.”

The two Bauer flood gates on the Charles Street Bridge comprise a series of rubber-sealed ‘stop logs’ which are placed between upright posts that are bolted into the road, as opposed to the city’s sliding gates which can be rolled across gaps in the levee system and tensioned into place.

The gates are designed so they can be set up quickly and without the need for specialised, heavy machinery, Mayor Garwood said.

The City of Launceston routinely engages in flood readiness exercises, which include operational crews testing flood gates and pumps, or much broader or inter-agency preparedness exercises.

“Everyone knows that Launceston is flood prone, with more than 40 significant floods events impacting the city since record-keeping began,” Mayor Garwood said.

In 2010, a major reconstruction of the city’s flood defence system began and, in 2018, a 700m-long flood levee at Newstead was completed. Today, Launceston’s flood levee defence system comprises more than 12km of earth and concrete levees and 19 flood gates.

More than 5000 Launceston residents live in homes protected by levees and more than 400 businesses also operate in levee protected areas of the city.

“The only way we can test the installation of the flood gates is to close the Charles Street Bridge, which unfortunately does have an impact on traffic,” Mayor Garwood said.

“However, it is important that we regularly test our processes and equipment so that we can identify any improvements that can be made, or rectify any problems we encounter that may impact the gate’s effectiveness in a flood.”

Mayor Garwood said the Council apologises in advance for any inconvenience to motorists during the temporary bridge closure on Thursday evening.

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